As I discussed in an earlier post on psychologicalÂ defensiveness, we humans try to protect ourselves from emotional facts too painful to bear â€“ that is, we â€œlieâ€ to ourselves about them.Â Thatâ€™s our nature and everybody does it.Â The job of a good therapist is to make you aware of those things you donâ€™t know about yourself (and probably never wanted to know).
As I listen to my clients talking, they inevitably reveal things about themselves without knowing it, and I try to tell them what Iâ€™ve heard.Â I rarely get through on the first try (you know, that â€œresistanceâ€ thing).Â I keep listening.Â If I hear more evidence, Iâ€™ll try again to show it to my clients.Â Â If I was right and my view becomes more persuasive, they usually become uncomfortable.Â Maybe theyâ€™ll get angry.Â Sometimes they hate me for telling them what they don’t want to hear.
With all of my patients, at one time or another, theyâ€™ve hated me â€¦ even when they agreed with what Iâ€™d just told them.Â In my view, this is an expected part of the relationship, just the way itâ€™s normal for children to hate their parents from time to time. Â Â With severely disturbed clients in long-term treatment, one of the main jobs of a therapist is to allow room for their hatred.Â With borderline personality disorder, hatred is often the central focus of early work.Â My clients whoâ€™ve spent months or years hating me and come through on the other side always feel profoundly grateful that I could bear with them and not retaliate.
Even in much less severe cases, hatred often comes up. Â Â If clients feel comfortable in treatment and love their therapists because theyâ€™re so kind and sympathetic (see my post on the difference between empathy vs sympathy), the therapy is of little value in my opinion.Â Â With the best intentions, that sort of therapist ends up supporting the lies clients tell themselves.Â Though the therapy may be of immediate solace, it has no lasting effect.Â Itâ€™s the job of a good therapist to confront those unconscious lies we all tell ourselves, and thereby make his or her clients â€œuncomfortableâ€.Â Resentment or hatred is often the immediate reward for a job well done, but on another level, clients are grateful to us for telling the truth.
Finding Your Own Way:
These posts offer tools you can use to dig deeper, maybe to discover some of those lies you donâ€™t realize youâ€™ve been telling yourself.Â In that sense, theyâ€™re meant to function like comments I make to my clients.Â It wouldnâ€™t surprise me if you disliked some of what I say, or turned away from it.
Think about your reactions to the various posts.Â Do you find any of them irritating or offensive?Â Have you dismissed any out of hand (â€œThat doesnâ€™t apply to meâ€), or found yourself thinking more than once about how off the mark I was?Â If so, go back to that post and spend more time with it.Â See if you can figure out what makes you so uncomfortable about it.
You should feel uncomfortable. Â My subject matter is about difficult and painful subjects â€“ anger, hopelessness, shame, hatred; Â If you really digest these posts, they should disturb your equilibrium, bringing a bit of the unknown (and unwanted) parts of yourself into the light.
What if your therapist screwed you over.. in my case, facilitated in getting me terminated from my employer of ten years. My point being; ‘What if the hatred toward your therapist is well founded?’
That’s a different matter altogether! That’s more like malpractice.
Frankly, I think you are wrong…I’ve had inklings of this suspicion for a long time, having gone to therapy for a long time with nothing but pain to show for it. Recently, I lucked upon the book Self-Coaching by Joseph Luciani (a psychotherapist), which I am amazed I read given my developed disdain for psychotherapy. It has helped me immediately, and I anticipate my life drastically improving thanks to that book and that book alone. The fact of the matter is there’s no need to delve into the past, or dredge up anger and sadness. Luciani says so, and it makes total sense to me.
I frankly believe that a huge amount of, and probably most of, therapy is utter fraud, which is designed so that the patient is unable to speak to this fraud without it being framed in the context of, “this is an expression of your past anger or sadness, and you need me to bring these emotions out so that the healing process can take place,” which ironically and tragically, just keeps the patient coming back for more pain. My opinion (and this is something I believe is a fact that the profession is in denial about) is that there is no need for a therapist to know all that much about the patient. In fact, there is no need for a therapist whatsoever. There is a huge amount of data about the archetypal problems that people have. People merely need the information to help themselves, and nothing more. But since psychotherapists insist on imposing their need to seem like they are helpful, they basically make stuff up about past anger and “using me to deal with it.” I say people need the right information, no more and no less. In theory, psychotherapists might be helpful in the provision of this information, but more often than not just want to dredge up emotions so they can feel like they know what they are talking about. More likely than not, I think, therapists lead “patients” on a wild goose chase a lot of the time. I think there needs to be a serious and wholesale re-evaluation of the profession, to be generous. Because all that my Harvard-trained psychotherapist did was basically ruin my life. For example, he told me to “run as far away from your parents as you can.” So I cut off contact with my parents for a year, and it just destroyed things between us.
If I had of known I could just read a book and feel better, which is the case now, having been driven basically to the edge of suicide by my arrogant “therapist,” I would have simply done that. But the tragic fact is, therapists will continue to impose their faulty view of the world, and people like me will just wonder, what did I do wrong?
That being said, the one psychotherapist I recommend is Joseph Luciani. His book is called Self-Coaching, and despite the fact that he has a respect for the profession that I don’t, the core of his program for getting better is solid, and I can virtually guarantee will work for anyone with so-called mental health issues. It gives you a systematic program for getting better, which is ALL you need. Maybe other books do the same, but I tell you that all the information you’ll ever need to get better and stay better for your lifetime is in this book. He is mistaken only in his belief in the psychotherapy profession in general.
I feel guilty even posting this. I don’t wish to tear people down. But something needs to be done about this idea that psychotherapy is some benevolent force, when in very large part it isn’t. I think often, and I have no idea how often, but I think it is very often, it confuses the hell out of people, and can be highly destructive. Thanks!
It sounds like you had a very bad experience with your therapist. I’m glad you found a book that helps.
Totally agree I had exactly the same experience. Sadly there are a lot of angry and misguided therapists that overly obsess over childhood and ruin people’s lives by decommissioning the adult ego state in people, leaving them regressed, confused and full of life threatening hatred. They create more problems than they fix and often use their profession as a way of validating their own distorted world views, which they dangerously impose onto unsuspecting clients. My one single handedly destroyed my relationship with my dad who I once admired and indoctrinated me into demonising him, probably to make herself feel better in some messed up way. I lost the last 6 years of him, hardly visited him and he died without me ever waking up from her spell. Luckily I came across a book which highlights the exact same issues outlined here and more regarding the intoxicating and dangerous elements of therapy when carried out by an incompetent moron.
It’s no different to an occult and these deluded fools think the world is broken and they have the answer. Which they do not! They are wolves in sheeps clothing.
Don’t leave us hanging! What was the book??
I agree with you, btw. My therapy was largely a waste of time and money. Mine was a University of Chicago graduate, very much a student of the Rogerian method. She sat there like a stump, stared at me for 52 minutes, and offered very little commentary and almost ZERO advice. Every Thursday afternoon for two and a half years.
I guess I was crazy, to put up with that for all that time.
There are good therapists and there are bad therapists. My therapist never told me what to do or who to be, he always left that entirely up to me – mainly, he has been someone I could rely on entirely, who never let me down, while I was figuring everything out. What it has brought me is improvement and empowerment, even though the process has been very painful at times. But it took me years to find that therapist, and I’d seen a few therapists before that I had found very bad. That doesn’t mean they all are or that therapy in itself is fraud, not at all.
i regressed and remained that way for 14 years..waking up from that in one fell swoop has been very difficult.
i believe trying to bring up the past to re-live it to heal and understand it can be dangerous. It needs to be done with a professional and competent Therapist. Otherwise you can end up like me..paying around $50,000 over 14 years to just go round and round and round the same old ground with no end game in sight. I had to pull myself out of it and I was so hopelessly attached to my therapist that I needed to be in contact with him even when he was away…he encouraged this behavior and boy oh boy did he ever profit from it…and I will also say that he has been doing the same thing with approx 30 other people that I know through him (sort of a cult?? following type of thing…he holds workshops and does some really questionable stuff…that, as a groupie, I did not see until the money was gone.)
Anyway, my advice, be really careful with regression…make sure the therapist has an end game that is in view and that is being honored…If you feel you are becoming hopelessly attached and your therapist is not working to detach you, try to muster the courage to find someone else. Get support. Keep your $50,000..you can only imagine how much that sticks in my craw…and he just keeps on doing it and is not held accountable. Now I am paying for therapy to heal from therapy.
He has a great thing going…he can collect insurance to fund his little playground and his big EGO.
As was said earlier in the thread, “They create more problems than they fix and often use their profession as a way of validating their own distorted world views, which they dangerously impose onto unsuspecting clients.” This is true. My therapist was sort of ok until she found out I was bullied in school, then proceeded, on the visible verge of both tears and bursting out in anger (Her face was red as a tomato), to explain how she was a bully in school, then her son got bullied, so she became a therapist to help those who were bullied. Shen then said in a total change of tone, “I just don’t know how to help you with your social anxiety” (Which I don’t have… At any other moment she said I was completely socially competent, moreso than most people, including her husband, she said.) After that session, she has told me to get a new job, each time, and when I tell her why I want to stay where I am at the linguistics job I’m at, she says “Isn’t there ANYTHING else you want to do?” If she asks me that, before I respond, she says something like “Why don’t you x? Just do x.”, and never lets me respond. If I tell her why I like my job, she says “I know, but why don’t you find something else?” She keeps bringing up “money” (Which isn’t a problem for me, as I have a budget and stick to it), saying things like “Why don’t you get a better job with more money?”, and keeps using the word to the point I’m almost certain she serves mammon, not God (Bad joke, I’ll see myself out, lol!)
It’s, unfortunately, gotten to the point at which I am nervous to even attend meetings (or are they called sessions?), and I dread them. I think it’s time to “break up” with her. Yesterday she spent an hour berating my job, and then I began crying, to which she gave me fake pity, “Oh, I’m so sorry dear, will you come back? Promise me that you’ll come back!” As if she is desperate for my “money.”
Basically she is using people to fulfil her own self-need of making up for her bullying, in some odd hopes it will ease her son’s pain, in some karmic sense. Although I don’t claim to understand a crazy mind such as hers, so I might be off the mark in understanding her. And I never asked for her opinion on my job; she proceeded to give it anyways, and it was not the first time. I think the entire psychiatry business is a complete crapshoot, and you’re lucky to find any good counsellors who really want to help people.
Sorry for my bad English, many hugs from Scandanavia
Hi, this is happening to me currently. Iâ€™ve never been a person to have rage or to get into fights in public, so at times Iâ€™ve become so angry itâ€™s dangerous for me to drive. Then I became tied up in knots after she started pushing me and telling me what I should do and pointing out my flaws. Pushing me into situations Iâ€™m clear about not feeling safe about. I left sales to be a designer why would she push me back into retail? My parents have npd and she naively pushes me to see them every week. My parents became more overbearing and I started to become frozen so now Iâ€™m demoralized and debilitated by feeling controlled by my parents and therapist. She refuses to acknowledge my requests for winding down therapy. Iâ€™ve been going for at least 4 years! This woman has said I didnâ€™t realize that was serious and I didnâ€™t see it at the time. Sheâ€™s a mess, I want my life back! Iâ€™m more confused and tied up in knots than Iâ€™ve ever been. I used to tell myself it was part of the process! But one day I got clear and stopped going, I felt fine and not so confused and angry, so now I believe she is doing me a disservice. Is it normal to feel like you canâ€™t think anymore and become forgetful almost like you are shutting off? I feel like hell has frozen over from this woman. Or is this all â€œnormalâ€?
No, it doesn’t sound normal to me. While you might have made the right to decision to terminate your last treatment, you probably need to find someone else to work with.
Goodness, much of what Luciani talks about is “Child Reflex.” Perhaps you could go back and read his book again with a view of how much of it is about childhood interpretations. Your suggestion that there is “no need to delve into the past” would invalidate the majority of his book.
I totally agree with what you have said regarding how dangerous many psychotherapists can be. I went to an “experimental” psychotherapist who was not registered with the APA. I went to her because she was all I could afford, and she was recommended by a therapist I liked, who was registered. Big mistake. She had very poor boundaries and encouraged and seemed to thrive on me becoming dependent on her, all whilst, as Sol said,”decommissioning the adult ego state …” leaving me “…regressed, confused and full of life threatening hatred.”
Each time I attempted to address the blurry boundary issues I was experiencing with her, she would brush past them without answering my concerns, and move on to a different topic. When I was unable to move through my anger, because the multiple issues I raised were not being addressed, she judged me, blamed me, threatened me, stood above me and yelled at me, and convinced me not to leave her service and then terminated me as a client.
I wanted to “save” the relationship with her because: she told me that it was only “the relationship” that would “heal me”; I was viewing myself as “bad” for not being able to manage my anger with her in a healthy way – and so I raised the idea of temporarily going to see another therapist to get a handle on the anger – I did not feel she was giving me the skills to overcome this problem. She then responded by spontaneously providing (without qualification) over-the-phone therapy. In doing so, she convinced me not to go elsewhere. She had provided free, spontaneous, over-the-phone therapy sessions several times before, when I had not been seeking it, and then would at later times, heavily insinuate I was trying to elicit free therapy from her, out of nowhere, and for no reason apparent to me. This would leave me feeling angry.
The next time I expressed anger towards her (1 week after the spontaneous over-the-phone “therapy” session), relating to her insinuations that I was attempting to elicit from her, free therapy, she told me I wasn’t taking responsibility and permanently terminated me as her client, over the phone, in a very angry way. To my knowledge, she had not bothered to seek supervision regarding the anger she had been expressing towards me, but was more than willing to judge and condemn the anger I was expressing toward her.
After the termination, I was incredibly suicidal, made worse by her having frequently linked any hope I had of “healing” to the success of my relationship with her. I am still in therapy, trying to recover from her, and now have two different therapists (both registered and both very expensive), each coming from different theoretical backgrounds, and neither one of them has EVER made me feel permanently confused, angry or suicidal like she did. And both of these therapists have very firm, safe, boundaries. I am still considering whether to lodge a complaint about this woman but I need to get stronger first. I do worry that her blurry boundaries and experimental methods could drive someone else to suicide, if they haven’t already.
I still have a lot of rage towards her, so much so, that it can be physically debilitating. Although the two therapists I now have are helping me to process all this, I will never, ever, again, lay myself bare to another person like I did with this woman. I have learnt that there is a point beyond which no one can EVER be trusted. And I will never again give another person access to the deepest parts of who I am. She has firmly embedded this understanding into my DNA.
I totally agree. I had a breakdown after years of psycotherapy. It still has an affect. Basically my therapist was narcisstic, manipulative and controlling. She loved every minute of the attention I gave her. I struggled for years with transference and she experienced the same thing with me. She did not seek supervision and didn’t refer me on. She allowed it to carry on and was never going to let me go. I now hate psycotherapy and still and hate her. Wish I’d never met her, the pain she has put me through. Thanks to my friends helping me get out of that toxic relationship, I dread to think what would have happened without the support of my friends. It nearly ruined my marriage
I agree with everything you said. I invested a lot of time and effort into ‘therapy’ only to end up enmeshed with an arrogant therapist. In the end it was me who was filling a void for her, and me who took full responsibility of termination which, if allowed to go on, I believe I would have ended up in a psychiatric hospital. She was controlling and knew exactly what she was doing. I feel nothing but anger and grief. I should report it but I can’t, because I am still emotionally attached. It’s called mental and financial abuse. Created more serious problems than what I went into it with.
I believe in karma. What goes around comes around….
I found out that my therapist was getting gratification from the transference.
What a sick bitch! She was supposed to help me through it and all she did was brush it under the carpet and just carried on for years.
I went to three different psychics and they all said the same thing. I was manipulated.
I will never trust another therapist. Twisted sicko
I had a similar experience that my therapist facilitated in making me ending my job willingly.
Even outside of the therapeutic setting, I can find this same kind of dynamic at work. I’ve noticed that when I feel, for instance, that I’ve acted incompetently (an aspect that I find difficult to accept in myself) and someone else has witnessed it (whether or not they actually judge it as incompetent – fact is, they usually don’t), I hate them for having seen me in this way. It like the joke, “If I tell you, I have to kill you,” but this is more like “If you see me (in this less than ideal way), I have to kill you.”
I am finding as I work w/ this cycle, it allows me eventually to develop more compassion for myself, to become more whole really. So my hatred (which in its subtle forms is an icing out of others) is actually a portal to self-understanding and self-acceptance of all of me.
Can you write something on fixation feelings clients experience for therapists. Also, where after long time spans in therapy, endings might mean coming to terms with the loss, after you finish; learning to live and cope alone after so long in therapy. Letting go of therapist.
I would love to. Give me a few days to think about how to respond. I have some experience that I think applies. Thanks for posting.
Did you post an answer to this? I’d love to read it, as I will shortly be in this very same place in about 6-8 months, and although I am the one who asked when therapy would be finished, I was not prepared for the Energizer bunny feelings and thoughts that permeated my weekend right after asking and finally getting some idea of a timetable. Thank you.
I’m not sure which question you’re referring to? Can you copy the text and submit it in another comment? Thanks.
j hear youi iam trying ti\o nail him for what he did to me he is a jerk i found our his true colors i am suffering and he does not care i suspect wrongdoings coverups trying to find out txhe rfeal truth about his profession he done something he has people brainwashed phoney i think he is living a double life he turned on me for some reason he wanot professional and nonethical lies lies on my progress notes he will get caught bruce williamretzlaff greenbay resident wi help let this be known he bad news
I may be late to this thread but I was hoping to share my thoughts.
As psychologist and once patient myself, I am concerned that some of the visitors to your site may misconstrue some of what you have expressed here. There are cases where there are legitimate reasons to be angry, patients are right to be angry and should not be ignoring their internal dialogue or frankly, their gut instincts because too often, they aren’t actually lies.
In addition to the psychotherapist offering interpretations, as therapists, it is also so important to recognize our own limitations, our own counter transference, our own projections. When our patients know that we recognize that in ourselves, they feel empowered and experience psychotherapy as more of a partnership, which, from my point of view, makes for more productive therapy. They censor their thoughts less, they feel freer to express their anger and less guilty and shame when they express themselves in way that they may believe will lead the therapist to reject them (even if the therapist won’t).
As a graduate student in analysis, I remember believing that my therapist was omniscient. This belief shut me down and looking back, I did not grow in ways that I should have. I believed that every negative feeling I had toward her or her words, must have been a result of my “lies” and that belief kept me from expressing those feelings. My own experience as an individual “on the other side of the couch” helped me grow as a therapist even if my once supervisors may be disappointed to find out that I abandoned some of the classic psychodynamic ways they tried to teach me.
I am looking forward to reading further posts and I am glad that I found you via twitter. All the best as you grow this site and find readers with whom to share your valuable thoughts and insights.
Thanks for your comments. Very well written and thought out. I completely agree with your remarks about the kind of internal work we therapists have to do every day with our clients. Because close work with people in pain stirs up a lot of emotions in us, this job of self-reflection is an ongoing challenge.
I always tell my clients that they, after all, are the only one who can know the truth about themselves; my job is to tell them what I think I hear them saying, and only if it rings true and they find it useful does that interpretation have value. There is the reality of resistance, of course; in those cases, I never insist upon an interpretation. I wait and keep listening; if I was on to something, more “evidence” will emerge, but if I was wrong, we move on to the next issue.
Most of my clients come in wanting to believe I’m omniscient. I believe it goes with the territory of being a therapist: when people are suffering and in confusion, they naturally want to believe there is a person who knows everything and has the answers. With EVERY patient, it is part of our job to address this belief; it’s not always easy to detect, especially if the client doesn’t articulate it, but we must nonetheless be on guard. That kind of idealization, as you say, is counter-productive in psychotherapy.
Regarding TikunOlam: ” In addition to the psychotherapist offering interpretations, as therapists, it is also so important to recognize our own limitations, our own counter transference, our own projections. When our patients know that we recognize that in ourselves, they feel empowered and experience psychotherapy as more of a partnership, which, from my point of view, makes for more productive therapy. They censor their thoughts less, they feel freer to express their anger and less guilty and shame when they express themselves in way that they may believe will lead the therapist to reject them (even if the therapist wonâ€™t). ”
This is quite valid. As a therapist myself and currently in therapy for grief and loss, I am in this exact place in the therapeutic process. From my “client” perspective of the therapeutic relationship I currently am in, I have found myself hesitant or more appropriate term, “protective” in allowing myself to share and express all pertinent feelings due to the experience of my therapist not recognizing her own countertransference/projection issues. When approached, denial and deflection is experienced. As a therapist, I find myself wanting to confront to address this dynamic, however as the client, this act is not as easily done so for fear of rejection.
Grace, you’re in a difficult spot. Does your therapist take up your remarks in terms of your transference, or is she simply telling you that you’re incorrect in your perceptions of her?
I was working with a therapist who was going through her own counter transference/projection issues with me. I attempted to confront her and it only triggered her more and she began to
blame me for her distress-caused by her countertransference. It was very painful and confusing for me, particularly since up until that point she was a kind and thoughtful therapist. She began accusing me of things that were untrue and she shut down whenever I was feeling sad or needed her support. She began treating me differently and was mad at me often-yet would deny it. I began to believe her and thought I was the terrible person she portrayed me to be. I always trusted her judgment so I thought she must be right.
When a therapist is triggered-and they can’t see it- it can be incredibly harmful to the patient. I tried desperately to help my therapist see that she was triggered and it was hurting me but this only triggered her into feeling threatened which then caused her to push me away more and shut down. I adored this therapist and it pains me that a relationship of over ten years could change overnight. I felt traumatized by her suddenly turning on me and by her confusing behaviors-saying she cared for me but she clearly distrusted me and was shut down from me emotionally. Her behaviors contradicted her words.
As someone that struggled with attachment issues, having developed a deep trust and attachment to this person only to have them attack and distrust me was confusing. It was a very long relationship of over ten years and I spent over a year trying to repair the relationship rupture but she was incredibly stuck in her story and triggered which then just began to trigger me and cause me panic which only increased her anger. The more angry she got the more panicked I became. Her being triggered began to trigger me and it was a never ending nightmare. She recently moved and I didn’t get a chance to completely repair our relationship and now I’m just left with terrible pain and sadness of the loss of someone I loved dearly and respected. I felt emotionally abandoned and attacked by this therapist -fearful of her-yet also adored her because of the deep attachment we already established through the years. I feel so much pain and confusion over the loss of this therapist but more importantly I feel pain over the emotional abandonment I experienced a year or so before she left. It’s painful when someone shuts you out and there’s no way to get back in to repair and even more painful when ones therapist sees them inaccurately and misinterprets ones distress as manipulation of some sort. I feel such self doubt now and when I think of her I begin to blame myself for the relationship failure and question my own behaviors yet I also have deep anger for her being unkind and lack of insight. It’s a bit mind twisting. I’m not sure how to handle losing a 10+ year relationship with someone I adored but yet who unintentionally harmed me terribly. We had our goodbyes but has not contacted me since she left and didn’t check on me to make sure I eventually found a good therapist. She is just gone and I’m left with a lot of confusion and doubt. Its painful. How does one get over losing such a long term relationship that went bad because of countertransference?
I am facing the same problem, in a slightly different way. I did not get to say my goodbyes to the therapist, or to have a reasonably good ending of therapy.
I would very much appreciate Dr. Burgos’s opinion on your and my problem.
I have been in therapy with this therapist for almost ten years. It felt very good most of the time, he seemed supportive enough. Occasionally we were even in touch by email, when I suddenly faced a big problem he was kind enough to respond.
Trouble started four weeks ago, on the ninth of February.
This therapist values his vacations a lot. The ninth of February was the Friday before the carnival weekend in Germany. The therapist had recently (a few years ago) begun to take vacations over carnival, too (additionally to Christmas, Easter, the summer vacation and the fall vacation). I never liked his vacations, but I coped, since he told me and other patients his schedule in advance, it was not pleasant but it was okay.
Now on this Friday before his carnival vacation he suddenly texted me and canceled my appointment for this day. He canceled at 17.00 hrs, the appointment was supposed to be for 18.00 hrs, he said that he was sick.
With time on my hands, I ran an errand and on my way to the post office drove down the street where his office is. What I saw there was his car in the parking lot. It seemed that he was not sick by any means, and that he was working all right. This was 30 minutes after his cancellation.
I would have loved to discuss this issue with him, but because of his vacation there was no way of getting to talk to him. I was so disappointed that this evening I wrote him an email, telling him what I had seen and pointing out that obviously the sickness had struck very late in the day and that he was still healthy enough for the patient before me. I asked him what he thought of me, whether I ranked so low in his personal agenda that my appointment had to be dumped, and not any other. I told him I was disappointed.
He didn’t answer.
That night, I checked his twitter page. There, he referred to an article written by a person who advertises all over the internet as having allegedly been “sexually abused”, “abused by her parents”, having a “complex PTSD” and suffering from anxiety disorder, and claiming that she was prone to suicidal thoughts. This from a person who struts this stuff out on a blog, a twitter page and in other parts of the Internet. The therapist obviously can’t see her “notice me, notice me” attitude and her obvious narcissism, in addition to her need to be the best, the first and the only one. He doesn’t see it, but he obviously fell for the narrative.
Well I suffer from anxiety disorder myself, which is one of the reasons why I saw this therapist. I was appalled because suddenly I thought that he must have given my appointment to this person, screaming and babbling on her blog, wanting all his attention, pushing me totally to the background and to the sidelines. She also claimed that evening, that she was absolutely terrified by another panic attack.
I would have needed to see the therapist that evening, especially since he was going away on another one of his vacations. After reading this thing
I wrote him a second letter, claiming that now I understood that he had canceled my appointment because that person was another patient and that he had given my appointment to her. I don’t know if it was right or wrong, but there was a certain probability.
And no matter how wrong I was, I think this was something that ought to have been discussed between the therapist and me. Unfortunately I added in this second letter that I don’t want things to go this way and that I would rather end therapy than being treated like this. I strongly resented the cancellation and the possibility that my appointment had been given to someone else made it worse.
The therapist glibly wrote me a letter, saying he accepted my cancellation and that he wished me well. That was all. No – “let’s discuss this”, “we need to look at what happened”. Just simply a termination and a “get out of my life”.
I wrote him two emails after this, I apologized for my letters, I apologized for being wrong, I told him that he is not to blame, that all the blame rests with me and I begged him (literally) to forgive me and to work through this with me. I said that this is the material that needs to be worked through in therapy that I regretted this more deeply than anything else I had done in my life and I begged.
The therapist answered me (glibly, again) that at this point it wasn’t about forgiving me or not (of course it was) or about accepting or denying my request. For him it was just about not wanting and not being able to work with me at this point in time anymore.
He smugly suggested that we might consider meeting after his summer vacation (months away) to find out if each of us was still willing to take up therapy again.
With this he pulled the rug from under my feet. For me it has no sense meeting him at any future time. This breach in therapy could have been healed immediately after all the badness that had occurred, but not at a future time. To me it feels that as a “good-bye gift” in those last to emails he attempted to mock me and to laugh at my deep pain one more time. I did not answer those emails nor will I contact him again at any future time.
I have cried for days. I have begun to feel like the most worthless lump of DNA on the planet (thanks to Mr Therapist dumping me like this) and I have recently, on the 9th March suffered hearing loss on the right ear, which I hope is only temporary, probably from the stress.
All in all I feel deeply wronged by this therapist, so deeply wronged like I have never been wronged before. If therapists hurt their clients like that, reduce them to utter worthlessness, they use therapy as a weapon and not as an instrument to heal.
I would so appreciate an answer from Mr Burgo and anyone who can relate to what this therapist put me through.
I have experienced this very same thing with countertransference. Also I walked on eggshells wondering why my anxiety would hit the roof when I was in session. Gaslighting also. I honestly thought I was going crazy, thinking it can’t be me mishearing things all the time…
Found out she got gratification from my sexual transference. That’s why she never attempted to work through it with me. I was getting strong messages in dreams about what I was picking up from her. Always listen to your dreams. They can tell you a lot!!
Sorry for my English, I’m not a native.
I think there is big danger to too keen on the game ‘trust-hatred’. The result of a consultation in which my therapist was just trying to frustrate me, was deep anorexia. So, it was enough for me, I didn’t ask therapist for help. Helped myself, and it took 6 month of my life.
My therapist said: “Well, you can complain to me.” And he wasn’t truthful in both cases.
I don’t hate him. But the question of confidence to any person is closed for me – I will not admit anybody too close.
I’m sorry to hear about your experience, Elina. I disapprove of therapists who deliberately frustrate their clients or manipulate the relationship in order to arouse certain feelings. The result is often just what you describe — a feeling of betrayal and damage to the basic trust involved in dependent relationships. It doesn’t sound to me as if you hate him; rather that you feel betrayed in your trust — not surprising. I hope that you’ll eventually be able to feel that there are truly trustworthy mental health professionals in this world.
Thank you, Joseph 🙂
I spent sometime getting some counseling when I returned to college. And I was having some difficulties with my adviser. the problem was my adviser didn’t understand what I was doing.
I spent a lot of time discussing this in counseling and my counselor decided my research was wrong and one day counselor decided I should explain my research to him because he decided I was wrong.
I felt so exasperated because the counselor had been the one person I felt good about discussing the problems I had with my adviser. So I walked out, exasperated.
I am guessing from reading your article that my counselor must have thought he had unmasked a deep issue. Instead he wasted our time. Because I decided to approach other academics about my research and they understood it and explained it to my adviser, so it was definitely my adviser who had the problem.
I was annoyed because I needed counseling about so much in my life. Unless he wanted to test how I would react to other things he had actually seen. I dunno. I just wished he’d disclosed something that would have been useful to me.
I suppose it was me who wasted the time, cos I was talking about a problem I could solve myself in our time. I dunno.
I have been seeing a therapist for 2 1/2 years and about 4 months ago I left my emotionally abusive husband. Since then the sessions have changed drastically and things are much more relaxed and casual. It’s difficult to tell whether my therapist initiated the change or if I brought it about due to the changes that I have been experiencing from freeing myself from an abusive relationship.
However because our sessions have gotten so casual, I have been experiencing transference and I have brought it up on a couple of occasions to my therapist. He has not taken it seriously at all and has done little to try to help me work through it so it has dragged on for several months now. It has been getting more and more difficult for me to stop thinking about him and fantasizing about him.
A few weeks ago I started to feel like he has had feelings for me as well, perhaps for longer than I have. Call it women’s intuition but I feel that he does from his body language, the increased frequency of smiling and laughing with a twinkle in his eyes, his teasing me, his sharing little tidbits of information about his personal life, his asking seemingly innocent questions that really have no relevence to my therapy, etc. Recently he gave me a book that although is pertinent to what I’ve worked on with him, sent up a flag for me because of the way it was given to me. He tried to pass it off as if it was no big deal except that it seemed important to him that I have it.
Anyway, I confronted him about the whole countertransference business and he completely denied it. For every point that I made, he turned it back on me as if I was misperceiving things due to my history of emotional abuse. I felt very much like he was taking advantage of my disadvantage by using the therapist explanation to cover up feelings that he was too ashamed to admit to himself. When I confronted him he didn’t seem to be lying, I just think he convinced himself he didn’t have these feelings.
I would like to hear your perspective on this.
From your description, it’s hard for me to tell whether your therapist actually has some counter-transference issues. The fact that he denied it doesn’t sound good. If he really felt he didn’t have a problem, he could have instead explored what it meant to you and how you felt about it. Denial just sounds defensive. “Teasing” also concerns me. The self-disclosures might be a problem, depending on what he’s telling you, but as I don’t know what that information is, I can’t really evaluate his behavior.
I also wonder whether taking up transference issues is a normal part of your work together. As I see it, transference doesn’t just come up now and then; it’s a central part of the ongoing work. Unless he’s used to working that way, your therapist may not know what to do with your feelings about him. If he doesn’t understand them, they may simply make him uncomfortable. You should probably continue to talk to him about this, and leave open the possibility that you may be mis-perceiving him. If you are, it would be because you NEED to do so, to work out some particular issue in the context of your therapeutic relationship.
I had another talk with my therapist about this a couple of weeks ago and he refused to even consider that he might be experiencing counter-transference that was affecting my sessions with him. It really made him uncomfortable to find out how strong my transference feelings were and he actually could have done considerable damage to me had I not been aware of the existence of such a thing and had I not trusted my own intuition. But I think the whole thing freaked him out so much that his countertransference issues went away and my transference problems went away also. Now I am seriously considering finding a new therapist as I am now finding it impossible to trust him completely after all this. He seems very passive in our sessions and doesn’t bring things up from previous sessions. I always have to decide what I want to talk about each week. Is it normal for a therapist to always give the responsibility of what is discussed to the patient?
I almost always let my clients decide what we’ll talk about; it’s a very psychoanalytic stance. But on the other hand, I wouldn’t avoid talking about transference and counter-transference issues since they’re often the meat of the matter. Keep talking to your therapist about it; if he can’t make you feel heard and understood, then follow your instincts and move on.
I haven’t always agreed with my therapist and have at times been ticked off, but hatred? THat’s pretty extreme. I can’t say I ever felt hatred for my therapist.
My therapist must be doing his job quite well. He and I have brought so many unknown and unwanted parts of myself into the light during our years of work together that I can read many of your posts without discomfort — not because I think you’re an idiot and they don’t apply to me, but because I can now say, “Yup, been there, done that!”
I can’t count the number of times I hated my therapist and had no problem telling him what an idiot he was. But a strange thing happened during this process — when I stopped trying to push away those unwanted parts of myself and I began to accept the truth about my motives and behaviors, I realized that he wasn’t the idiot — I was! And being able to acknowledge that was a turning point for me in my therapy. When I no longer fought so hard to defend against the truth about myself, I started to like myself more than I did when I actually thought I was a “good” person who would never want to hurt or control or manipulate anyone because I knew how it felt to be hurt and controlled and manipulated.
I wish more therapists would be more persistent in helping clients to recognize and acknowledge those unknown and unwanted parts. But it seems like far too many get caught up in not wanting to “blame the victim” so they fail to address our issues of rage, control and manipulation, preferring instead to “meet our need” for affirmation and validation that we are good and the people who hurt us are bad. If only it were that simple.
You hit the nail on the head in your last sentence. It’s an issue I took up in an earlier post about the difference between empathy and sympathy.
There’ a quite a danger for a therapist comfortably to assume that a client is angry because he’s hit on some wonderful truth. Clients also get angry because their therapist is wrong, or because there are other misunderstood circumstances in the discussion, or because the client has different priorities. Or because may the therapist was simply tactless or condescending. This blog post reads like a grand rationalization for invalidating client feedback. The client is too stupid to know what’s true or good for her.
Any therapist who would “comfortably assume” anything, without corroborating evidence elsewhere, and confirmation from the client, would be incompetent.
I walked out on my therapist today. After nearly three months of weekly therapy I finally vented or more like vomited my anger……and projected it on my therapist. I wont go into the details ‘the story’ around my anger but it essentially involved me being frustrated and angry with the way the therapy was going and feeling let down. To be honest, I feel it doesn’t really matter ‘the fine detail’ as to why I was angry at my therapist ie the detail of my discontent…it could have just have easily been my rage at the colour of the wall paper in the room. All I can say is, I ‘needed’ to get angry (if that makes sense).
Her first response when I criticized the therapy and said I felt I had reached a ‘cul de sac’ was to say “well if you want to leave thats fine by me”. She also became defensive with my criticism. I got even angrier then and very upset. In the end after a half hour of this forward and back, I threw the money on the table and walked out-I felt badly let down.
In hindsight now I realise that history has indeed repeated itself for me. I grew up in a house where as a child, it was not okay to be ‘me’. My father’s mood swings included getting hit (and I dont mean a light smack – I mean something more like a verbal assault at best – physical assault at its worse). In particular expressing opinion/ anger or indignation was NOT ALLOWED and resulted in severe punishment. My therapist knows all this. I have talked about it ad nausea in therapy. She has even commented on my inability to ‘discharge’ anger. I finally got the courage to do it today – not intentionally, I didn’t plan it, but I guess deep down I knew I had to.
I realise now that what I wanted was someone who would not judge me for venting anger. I wanted someone who would not retaliate by rejecting me or my anger (saying ‘you can leave if you want’) or retaliate with defensiveness and judgment . I wanted ‘a safe place’ and acceptance.
It took a lot for me to express anger in therapy. Deep down I was terrified of rejection and punishment. Unfortunately my fears have been justified. Its all very distressing because on two occasions (once at the first session) she told me I was hard work (she qualified this later saying she felt I was hard work because I did’nt express a lot of emotion in therapy!). By God, in the end I have paid a price for expressing feeling in therapy. One thing is certain. I won’t be going back.
What a disappointment, to say the very least. As much training as we get in helping people, few of us know how to bear with that kind of rage when it’s being directed at us. It sounds like she wasn’t the right therapist for you but don’t give up on therapy altogether. Keep looking.
I recently had my therapist confront me, and I feel betrayed. Not because of the content, but in the way it was delivered. It felt like one of those arguments that you have with someone, where everything starts out fine… then all of a sudden, out of the blue, the other person starts in with a random, arbitrary, and capricious stream of verbal bullets from every direction. No matter what you say, it’s wrong. I couldn’t defend, could not agree, could not say a damn thing, he just kept going and going…he just kept talking over me, telling me that everything I said was bullshit, I over intellectualized, threw in a few more “criticisms”) (one was true, one was not, he was really just on roll and seemed to be having a good time) If he would have said one thing at a time, that would have been different. He would wait till I broke down, and then start with the kind words… This last time I walked out. This is how my father used to conduct his verbal abuse, by the way, and the therapist knows this.
I think, as a previous poster mentioned, he was trying to “frustrate me” to get through my defenses. I feel betrayed, like the whole building up trust process was just prep for the “real work” . This has been going on for a month and it leaves me feeling confused, very, very angry, and shut down, not to mention depressed. I’m having to force myself to concentrate on my work, but it’s getting easier I have not talked to the therapist in a while and actually don’t think I plan on going back. This makes me so sad, but I’m getting over it day by day. Back to being alone, and I’m OK with it.
Is it also OK to go into therapy knowing a bit about the “process”? I’m learning quite a bit. Part of me feels like it’s my fault for “resisting” but there has got to be other ways to confront a client than what I experienced. I had to draw a line somewhere.
I can’t gauge your therapist’s intent, but I disapprove of deliberately frustrating your clients in order to motivate them. It doesn’t work. Instead we need to point out to our clients how they’re avoiding real contact, or intellectualizing, and try to understand WHY. Is it fear of exposure? Is it dread of becoming dependent? Is it shame? There are many reasons why someone might intellectualize, and our work is to try to understand why. It sounds as if your therapist doesn’t really understand the concept of resistance; assuming that he has met with your resistance, he seems to be treating you as if you are “bad” instead of trying to understand what you’re warding off. It also sounds as if he is frustrated, due to his lack of understanding, and is blaming you for his own limitations.
As for knowing a bit about the process, of course it’s okay. Over the years, most of my clients have been other therapists and they often know a great deal.
Yes, he’s frustrated. I asked him to stop doing that, to be kinder- but now, by telling him that I felt “offended” I think I gave him more reason to do the “tough love” routine, and gave him more “ammunition” to classify me as BPD. He won’t back down. I’m now in the process of distancing myself- (one of my defenses!) I’m afraid of being labeled as BPD if I call him again soon. I got to dependent, it’s too hot and cold for me. Thanks for this reply, I need to um, think about this, but not too much!
My husband and I have been seeing a female counselor for about 6 weeks now and since day one she has seemed to rub me the wrong way. I gave it a chance though. I personally am open to the fact that I have a lot of issues to face and resolve in myself to help make my marriage work, but my husband has a lot to work on himself since he has a past of physically abusing me. From the beginning the counselor tends to address me far more than my husband and my husband just sits back to enjoy the “show.” She has been argumentative with me and condescending and has tried to justify my husband lying to me for the sake of not having to be “nagged.” She has also made many assumptions about me as a woman and the dynamics of our relationship just 2 sessions in and she didn’t even try to figure us out first or our dynamics before jumping in with her “opinions.”
I am infuriated with my counselor right now because my husband had another “episode” and he ended up in jail for domestic violence and we are only in contact during counseling. We just had our first meeting since the incident and the only thing she addressed my husband with was “what pushed you over the edge?” and then the only ramification that he received was a comment she direct towards both of us about how I could have addressed things differently and how his reaction should have been different. THAT IS ALL! Nothing else, no looking deeper into his issues and instead she turns everything on me and tries to figure ME out in the situation.
To me she seems to be a bit sexist and holds things to a double standard. She condemned him for being there showing he cared, but then she tells me I’m not as dedicated to working things out as he is. Well I’m there too and I should be the last one there TRYING to work things out because I’ve been hurt and abused and shouldn’t even be giving him a chance.
She also told me that “it’s life” for children and people to be talked to in a condescending and frustrated tone all the time and basically argued with me that my feelings that by leaving our son with my husband who’s always “frustrated” with him is invalid and not about our son, but about ME. I have to disagree. She doesn’t know who he is and doesn’t seem to care to get to know, so instead I’m wrong and she’ll try to fix me.
I’m sorry for the rant, I’m just frustrated and need to know that I’m just not frustrated with everything and that she really is a crappy counselor.
I would say that your feelings are a good indication that this is not the right therapist for you. I’d advise you either to go alone to another therapist to discuss these issues, or get a consultation with a different marriage counselor. If you want my opinion, while I’m sure there are things you could do to help the situation, spousal abuse is less a “couples issue” than other issues; in large part, it’s about his explosive rage and why he can’t control it. You might want to wonder why you picked someone who abuses you, and why you’re even interested in working it out. Why aren’t you putting an end to the abuse by leaving and looking for something better? If it were a one-time experience, that would be different; he sounds like a serial abuser and you need to protect yourself, first and foremost.
My therapist seemed like a somewhat normal guy until one day he just snapped. I was going through a terrible time–job loss, surgery, child troubles, money troubles–and he made an insensitive joke at my expense. I said that the joke hurt my feelings and he just started yelling at me. He said I was a bully, that I manipulated everything, that I wasn’t so perfect, that I didn’t appreciate anything he did for me. He got up and paced right in front of me and even leaned over me as I lay on the couch yelling, “You want me to be sorry? Well, I’m NOT sorry!” and said he couldn’t see me at my regular time the next week although I probably didn’t WANT to anyway. And he said, “You don’t know ANYTHING about me!” I still can’t really make sense of why he said what he did. I thought if I had a feeling (like feeling hurt at a joke), I was SUPPOSED to express my feelings as accurately as possible. I stopped seeing him (I had a closure meeting, but I knew he wasn’t going to apologize, so I just focused on trying to forgive him–and yeah, he said he didn’t want to get into it). But now it has been a year since it happened and I am ashamed at how shattering this event has been to me. I think about his red face and his anger and his pacing around, and feel sick. For months I would wake up crying. This fall, I was so close to suicide that my new therapist made me write down a pact about why I wouldn’t kill myself. This desperate feeling went on for months. I knew I would never get any resolution for this, and that’s the way life is, but I wish I could just put it behind me. I feel like an idiot for having this pain me so much after a whole year.
What an awful experience. Your former therapist sounds emotionally abusive and this traumatic experience has only added to your pain, making your struggle even harder. I’m sure your new therapist has told you that the former therapist’s behavior was entirely unprofessional and that you have many good reasons to feel hurt and betrayed.
Thank you, Dr. Burgo. Your words were very comforting to me.
“My clients whoâ€™ve spent months or years hating me and come through on the other side always feel profoundly grateful that I could bear with them and not retaliate.”
Recently my therapist got angry at me, which was profoundly hurtful to me. It was a strong anger and when I told her it felt like she was angry at me she agreed she was.
I am going to talk to her about it more, but I would like your perspective on therapists getting angry at clients. Prior to this outburst from her, I trusted her not to retaliate and not to get angry at me. The fact that this trust is broken is difficult for me.
I know I can express angry emotions at my therapist, and we have both discussed that I do it because I have such feelings of self-hatred.
Do you think it is acceptable to express strong anger at clients? If so, what place does this have in therapy?
Sorry for taking so long to get back to you, Sophie — I was on vacation last week. On occasion, I think it may be acceptable or even necessary for a therapist to express anger, but it should never be retaliatory. She would need to explain to you why she felt angry, and hopefully, it would reveal something about your behavior toward her that would be illuminating — useful, that is, for you in understanding yourself.
I am a recovering bulimic who has had no binge/purge symptoms for almost 9 months now. I have a team and have been with my therapist for over a year. Still trying to get my meds right it has been difficult and the body image issue is bad. Have been encountering heavy duty transference (woman to woman) lately which I have been able to talk about and also extremely embarassing. I understand this is a big turning point for me because I have been seeking an authentic, caring relationship my whole life. I knew I would be too much for her and too needy and sure enough the more I slowly clue her in to how much I need her and am attatched and think about her the boundaries get tighter. Today she told me she will not respond to my emails because she can’t give me what I need. I am angry that the rules are changing a bit, she is less willing to share info about herself and I am frustrated that I have to feel all of these feelings when I much prefer to purge them. I don’ t think she can fix me and might possibly quit me.I think I expected to much and definitely thought giving up the eating disorder would be the hard part not the pathetic depression I’m suffering now because my therapist and I can’t be as close as I would like us to be.
The problem is that your therapist doesn’t know how to deal with and understand your transference, and also that her boundaries were poor before and she’s only now setting better limits in response to your feelings. But the anger you mention is also part of the transference and you need to bring that up and go into it deeply. If your therapist can’t tolerate your anger, that will tell you something important about her.
On the other handâ€¦ Do you think that your therapist somehow set you up to believe that she could fix you in some way? Did she ever start out by being a motherly, warm, overprotective figure who emphasized how much she cared about you and how she would never judge you and how she would always be there for you? If so, then maybe she was the kind of person who would enjoy setting out to deliberately create transference because she likes feeling needed and depended upon. People like that are sometimes on the lookout for people who are needy and vulnerable because they make easy prey, so to speak.
Thank you, I believe she had ok boundaries before, but now they have just become tighter. As a recovering bulimic it is hard to hold onto my feelings for too long ( want to get them out of my head like a purge). Was bulimic for 25 years. I have also found that it takes me a bit to process so sometimes things don’t click to later on in the day. I keep notes, but it isn’t, the same. I see her twice a week. Weekends are hard. I have cut a few times and have given my husband some pills to hold for me all over these stupid feelings I have for her that I am just learning and trying to accept will not be able to be met. For some reason it is devastating for me and feels so embarrassing to talk about event though I am. When I ask her how she feels about the stuff I bring up about my transference she wants to keep the focus on me or says how do you think I feel about it. She doesn’t want to make things anymore heated then they already are. I thought the hard part of all this was stopping the behaviors of the bulimia after so long not all this stuff that is coming up. It is ruling my life. I feel brave for telling her whats going on even though I can’t divulge everything at once and I know she wants more, but the more she gets the stricter she gets with me and the quicker I lose the relationship that I have idealized with her. I know that when I accept this the intrusive thoughts will get better and so will I, I just so want her to be my friend and fix me.
The two important things you say are (1) you have idealized your therapist; and (2) that you want her to “fix” you. These are often features of the infantile transference, where the therapist becomes (in fantasy) a kind of idealized mommy who could miraculously undo all the damage, if only you could be with her always.
Not only did this not make me feel uncomfortable, I feel relieved and grateful.
I want my therapist to love me (I know this is a desire from childhood) and I hate his guts because he doesn’t.
I know underneath that hatred is pain and loss.
He thinks he’s “not effective” because I’ve walled him off.
I worry that he’s going to end therapy because he “doesn’t know how to be effective” for me.
I think he needs to be patient and let me hate him for as long as I need to hate him.
Me, too. It’s a hard thing for a therapist to do, though.
My hatred isn’t towards an actual therapist but towards a wannabe therapist who took a psych 101 course at college and decided that she was an expert. She liked to amuse herself with brutal honesty which she considered to be charitable/free therapy. I had the misfortune of working in a foreign country with her and, because she could speak the language and I could not, I needed to work together with her. So I was completely cut off from my family and friends back home and the only communication I had was with someone who only spoke to me in patronizing, condescending psychobabble.
She never once let me walk up & approach her and any efforts of making small talk fell flat. But she never stopped harrassing me with her honesty. Her ‘Hey, I’m just being honest.’ comments were always unsolicited and usually about me being unattractive, undesirable and unwanted. I kept a list of all her comments and planned to show it to my friends when I got home. Typical examples were when she used to randomly, bluntly tell me that an attractive girl like her could never have sex with someone as ugly as me. Then she would do her usual just-being-honest routine and that she wanted to know how that made me feel in great detail.
I pleaded with her to stop. I told her that I was never a fan of psychology (I’m not) and I’d beg her not to talk to me at all. She would say things like, “Don’t you want to know what your problem is?’ to which I would respond ‘NO!’ I’d insult her or ignore her and she would complain about my ‘resistance’ and would complain that I was impossible to understand at all. I dealt with it until about the 7th week of being abroad when things really started getting bad and I made a failed suicide attempt.
My personality has never been the same and I feel numb and empty all the time. I’m about as agroaphobic as you can get and I rarely eat or sleep or even watch tv. The person I used to be is completely foreign (my unwanted ‘therapist’ used to call me a “frat boy” for being outgoing and wanting to hang out at clubs all night.)
My youngest sister’s own suicide attempts brought me to actual psychologists and it has just been disasterous. I told one about my sister’s problems and the very first thing I was told was that it was the “stupidest reason” she had ever heard for someone seeking therapy. I walked out. Then that same therapist chased me down and told me that she said I was being emotionally flat and unreasonable.
I’m told that I don’t understand how therapy is supposed to work. I’m told that I talk about all the wrong things. I’m told that therapists aren’t there to be my friend and that I should expect to be challenged and to hear things that I don’t want to hear. I’m told that I’m a poor candidate for medication. I’m told that ‘when the student is ready then the teacher will come’ – but I’m one of those hopeless, heartsink patients who will never be successful in therapy.
I decided to write an email to the girl for an explanation and she just belittled me for attempting suicide and reminded me that if she didn’t like me then she wouldn’t have provided all that free counseling for me.
What an awful story. It made me think of a favorite movie line, from the old Pride and Prejudice: “Honesty is a highly over-rated virtue.” What arrogance on your “friend’s” part, to presume to tell you whatever she thought might be true about you. Sounds to me as if she was simply projecting all her “shit” into you in order to get rid of it. Ugh.
It also sounds as if you’ve had a collection of bad therapists (not hard to do since so many of them are bad). The therapist who told you that yours was the stupidest reason she’d ever heard for seeking treatment seems utterly incompetent to me. I agree that therapists aren’t there to be friends, that the work involves challenging you and that you may not like hearing it, but that doesn’t mean you’ve been talking about the “wrong” things or will never be successful in therapy. If you’re truly suffering, just keep looking for the person who actually understands you and can speak to you with condescension or contempt.
I just recently discovered this website. I was in therapy for a long time with a freudian psychoanalist, form 1994 to 2001. My problem, now, is that I still hate her guts. And I think this is not countertransferance.
She manipulated me many times, for instance she did all she could to persuade me to date a guy I had met on the internet. I met this man face to face, once, and he explained me his fascist worldview, in total contrast with mine, said he was taking heavy psichyatric medication, was very aggressive and unpolite to anyone except me (on dates I always observe how guys behave with other people, such as waiters, I think it helps to see their true personality) and told me he had a collection of over 300 firearms (in Italy, where I live, firearms are strictly regulated and not very common). I also realized he had lied about where he lived, his academic title and other things, to make himself look more important.
When I told the therapist I didn’t want to see him again, she accused me of being “aloft” and have “unrealistic standards”. In the following sessions, she kept insisting that I should give him a chance. Luckily, I started dating another guy and she gave up.
A few years later, the guy I had supposedly discarded because I was “aloft” , murdered his wife (who he had met through the Internet, too), a neighbour and shot three more people, before taking his own life.
As I’m a journalist, I wrote the story about my date with him on a magazine. I think it could be helpful to other women in case they met a psychopath. But I feel guity about leaving the therapist out of the story: I should have warned people about her, too. Actually, that story gave a boost to my career, and I didn’t want my first article to bring a lawsuit from the therapist and to mark myself as somebody who dropped out of therapy.
But I feel guilty about it. The therapist harmed my best friend too, manipulating them into staying in a relationship with an emotionally abusive man. And I’m sure she did and is still doing harm. I don’t think she means it. I think she’s so sure of her worldview that she thinks she’s doing good.
I never confroted her: she refuses to see patients if they don’t pay and the alst thing I want is giving her more money.
Your anger is definitely NOT transference. This analyst’s behavior was highly unprofessional and about the farthest thing from psychoanalysis I can imagine. My guess is that confronting her would be fruitless as she’s absolutely convinced she is right and you, by definition (the inferior patient) are wrong, your reactions easily discounted as neurotic. I’m so sorry.
Joe, you say you’ve had clients whoâ€™ve “spent months or years hating me.” That’s pretty amazing, and amazing that you’ve stuck with them through all of that.
Do they usually cite specific reasons for hating you? Are they ever unsure as to why they hate you? I remember one time feeling a lot of hatred for my therapist but I couldn’t focus in on why. I think I ended up saying something like, “I don’t know. I just do. I don’t like how you dress and I hate how you slump in your chair.”
It was really a difficult moment, because at the same time, I’m also conscious that this man is a person who is genuinely trying to help me, and who has treated me with respect and dignity. It’s hard for me to call him a stupid a**hole and not even know why.
With my clients, it came up in the transference. One of them was so full of unconscious shame that he attacked me every time I put him in touch with it. That was his defense — to start screaming with invective, rather than feel the shame. With another client, it resulted from her extreme hatred of her own needs and feelings of dependency. The more dependent she felt, the more she wanted to attack and devalue me.
Thanks. It’s great to hear these accounts of other peoples’ struggles in therapy, and how you experience it.
I’m currently in a pretty severe depression and I’ve been in therapy for the last six months. It has gotten to the point where these sessions were the only thing I was looking forward to in my life. After almost every session I would feel calm and relaxed for a couple of hours.
Now that she’s currently on vacation I’m seeing someone else in the meantime. I hate the new therapist. Now after every session I instead feel anger and despair. My urge to harm myself and the self-hatred is becoming worse the more I talk to this new therapist, I find every suggestion and comment she makes to be stupid and ridiculous.
Is this how it’s supposed to be? Can I only make progress if there’s constant anger?
I don’t think it needs to be constant, but it definitely needs to be dealt with. I wonder if your have re-directed the anger you feel toward your therapist for “abandoning” you over the vacation and directed that rage instead toward the substitute.
This article helped me realize why my therapist irritates me sometimes, in fact sometimes I leave sessions angry because she’s willing to be straight with me on matters I maybe try to avoid paying attention to. She wants me to get better, so sometimes that means pushing me to see truths I might be avoiding. Thanks.
Exactly. Part of the job description is having people resent and feel angry at you for telling them the truth they don’t want to face.
I feel anger towards my therapist for terminating me 8 yrs. ago. I am again with this therapist, have been for past five years. I have BPD. Him terminating was the lowest point in my life. A lot was going on at the time it happened. I was abusive towards him.
In your opinion, can a therapist ever be helpful again to a BPD patient that they have previously terminated? Is the retraumatization too difficult to work through with the same therapist that did the retraumatizing? Should I consider the many past years of therapy a wash and start all over again? Don’t know if I have it in me.
Yes, I think he can still be helpful to you, but I would expect a part of what you need is an acknowledgement that his termination of you was traumatic and probably a mistake. Why did he terminate you when it was so obviously the wrong time?
Thanks so much for the quick reply!
I know he was in a tough position. My mother in law had a heart attack and died on the day I went into labor with my second child. I was already having negative transference towards my therapist prior to giving birth. I had found out that his daughter was pregnant at the exact same time and in my fantasy world, felt like I had to compete with her for his attention. Part of my chronic stuff to work on. I had great difficult dealing simultaneously with the two very strong emotions of great joy and great sorrow. Experiencing life and death at the same time combined with pregnancy hormones triggered something in me. I also felt much shame for not coping well when my children and husband needed me so. I was also left alone a lot the days following giving birth so that funeral plans could be made and affairs were dealt with.
I became wishy-washy about returning to therapy and when I did I verbally criticized him. I became angry and left slamming the door behind me and then took it a step further and grabbed some magazines and threw them at his closed door. I went out to my car and then when I realized what I did, I tried to go back in his office and that is when he told me “I was not allowed back here”.
He stuck to that. He said I had to be responsible for my actions, that there would be no further contact between us.
I was in shock. It was a very, very low point for me when he left. I had gotten mad before and slammed his door while leaving but never did anything like throwing things. It took a really long time for me to trust that he would be around for me while I needed him to be. But when I did believe it, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind. I believed him when he said, “I’m not going anywhere, you can’t get rid of me, you’ll fire me before I fire you, I’m a bulldog I don’t give up, I’ll be here not matter what, etc…” I was physically sick and just in an even deeper state of mourning while trying to pull it together for my kids. I had no self-esteem, no trust in anything and felt a deep sense of betrayal. I took it too far, it was my fault and I’ll always regret that but he must have been feeling negatively towards me prior to that without me knowing. He had helped me soooo much during the prior 7 years. I was a mess when I began therapy with him. I was able to bond with him aftera long while and grew to trust him wholeheartedly.
I would call him from time to time after that happened and he would speak with me and listen to what I was up to but when I asked to come back he would just say “not at this time”. I saw a few therapists but never stayed long, was scared to let anybody in again. After THREE years, I called him and said I was going to ask one more time, and he scheduled an appt. for me. It’s humiliating in a way that I had to beg to come back and couldn’t move forward. We’ve been building me back up as best as that can be done. And only recently have we discussed in a deep down way, the termination and how it affected me. Just a few weeks a go he apologized saying he was very, very sorry that it was so painful for me. He admits to “not being able to continue under those circumstances” and refers a lot to “taking responsibility” and “suffering consequences of actions”. It’s like him terminating therapy was a punishment for me because of how I acted that day.
I think he had had enough, you know how people suffering with symptoms of BPD can burn people out. He couldn’t see it through. I think we’ve forgiven each other and I am feeling trusting feelings towards him once again, but that special connection is held somewhere way down deep inside me. I know it’s still there, it shines through sometimes but doesn’t stay in the forefront for too long yet. I’m waiting to see what happens. He worked so hard for me in the past but things change and I’m learning that I can’t rewrite the ending to this therapy relationship. It’s different now.
You’re absolutely right, I needed to hear that he was sorry for having hurt me and I do think that it was the wrong decision due to the issues I deal with. That’s what hurt the most, he knew more than anyone else in my life how much it would hurt me if he went away. I sometimes still can’t believe it happened. I shouldn’t have acted the way I did, but he shouldn’t have said “I’ll be here no matter what”.
I required long term therapy to resolve the effects of deprivation in childhood. (Mother was a psychopath) A great deal of my therapy consisted of being permitted to be angry towards my therapist. The process of expressing rage within was at times very frightening. My terror of rage, caused clinical depression. Once the rage was expressed there was little to fear.
I believe you are on the right track Dr Jo. I wonder how many other doctors have your insight and compassion, and are not triggered by their patients anger?
It’s interesting, what you say about the link between rage and depression. That has been my experience, too, both on the couch and sitting behind it. Thanks!
Repressed rage, and the fear of it is held in place by the lid of depression. Once the rage is vented there is no longer a fear of it. It is a very simple concept. Perhaps too simple for such a complicated illness like clinical depression. The trigger to that rage is rejection or the fear of it. In my early adult life my storage of rage reached a critical point, and needed venting. The therapist’s aim was to bypass the anxiety, and aim for the rage. In so doing the anxiety dissipated. It became more interesting when infantile rage was expressed. At that level I found the REAL rage.
hello. how can we tell if hatred is caused by the therapist’s honest remarks or by reasons of transference? thanks in advance.
I think that’s the therapist’s job, to help you know the difference. If he or she responds defensively to your hostility, then it may be quite legitimate. If, on the other hand, the therapist helps you understand the unconscious reasons for your hatred, that would be different.
Never, in my wildest dreams did I think this process would end in me being hated, feared and shunned by fellow sufferers. No, I am not an inspiration to anyone wanting a “cure.” I am your worst nightmare. And to think it was all done without antidepressants, yoga, meditation, and CBT!
Far better prevention, rather than the cure.
I hate therapists in general. Mine wants me to vent mine in the session but I told her unless she wanted me to kick her ass, then she better really, really rethink that decision!
If you hate therapists in general, I wonder why you’re in treatment????
Dr. Burgo, you may not wish to answer this, but have you ever terminated a patient when it was not their wish to do so? If so why? Did you or would you ever work with them again?
Still processing things and am curious.
I terminated a client under those conditions only once, many years ago. She was an extremely ill elderly woman and I felt that I wasn’t helping her. It seemed unethical to continue accepting a fee for my services when I felt I was doing no good. Otherwise, I have never terminated a client against his or her will.
I came across your website in my search for articles (preferably by a professional) about feelings of anger/hate towards your therapist. I have these feelings toward mine for his boundaries. I am not permitted to contact him between sessions. Presumably this applies to all of his clients. No telephone calls, no email. Unless it’s an emergency. In my life I’ve had three important therapists (and one OK therapist). This is #3. The first two, plus the OK therapist, did not have these rules. If I felt like I needed to call, I could. I rarely even took advantage of the privilege, but apparently just having permission to contact them was important because it enrages me that this therapist doesn’t permit it. We’ve talked about it. He says it’s not personal and that not everyone can accommodate all of your needs. I’ve been struggling with this for a while. I’m not a “just let it go” kind of person. But we’ve also talked about this ’till I was blue in the face. It just makes me more angry. I don’t think the anger will subside until he gives in and tells me I can contact him if I need to. But that won’t happen. If I told this guy I don’t like cold water, he’ll tell me to dunk my hand in cold water every day until my dislike goes away. So I was wondering if you had any words of wisdom about this kind of anger/hate. Thanks.
I understand why you’re angry, and I understand why your therapist sets the limits he does. It seems a bit extreme but certainly not unprofessional. I wonder if he takes this up as a transference issue … say, how awful it feels simply to have to wait for what you want between sessions. It’s the kind of interpretation I often make, liking it to the earliest experiences of need and dependency.
But it also sounds as if you legitimately need him to be a bit more flexible. When he says it’s “not personal,” that doesn’t help, because you need his policy to be personal to you, to take your particular needs into account. On the other hand (too many hands now), it may again be part of the transference, where you want him to make an exception for you, among all his clients. I don’t know, but I’d keep trying to explore the issue with him in sessions.
Hi dr. Burgo, I have had a relatively short period of time in therapy but to my absolute horror in my last session I threw up after discussing a painful experience in my life, my therapist was not at all fazed by this and always insists I choose the topic that we talk about. He also recommends that I cry , wail or scream if need be but I can never read his face or his emotion which bothers the hell out of me. On getting home after that particular ” vomit session ” I emailed my therapist and abused the living daylights out of him , called him every name I could, tore apart his character and endlessly told him how much I hate him . ( he has not replied or called ) . This behaviour on my part is so distressing , embarrassing upsetting and forign to me that I don’t know how I’ll ever get back to an appointment with him ! And to add to my confusion I really like this psycotherapist ! My out burst has frightened me and in turn it may have done the same to him for which I fear he may terminate my appointments with him ? Any advice or clarity on this would be greatly appreciated 🙂
My advice is to trust him and go back for your next session. If he’s good, he’ll help you understand what the outburst means and why it came about. But in any event, this happened because you NEEDED it to happen; you need to bring up these angry feelings and get help with them.
Dr Burgo, I have a question related to a situation where my client has expressed the belief that I ( his therapist) do not like him. He has not raised this with me directly in our sessions but contacted a senior colleague who in turn explored what his preferences were in terms of how to address this. what was established was that he wanted to continue with our sessions and commented that he had no doubts about my competence or skills as his therapist, so the offer of changing to a different therapist ( extended by my colleague)was declined by him. The outcome that has been agreed is that the 3 of us will meet together ( i, his therapist, the client and my senior colleague) to discuss how to proceed with this. I am now reflecting on this and wondering what to do or how to ‘be’ although i also think that I need to continue ‘being’ as I am with him. The client reported to my colleague that I have not ‘done’ anything in particular to fuel or support what he thinks, but he just ‘feels’ as if he is not liked by me. I guess my question is do you have any thoughts about this in terms of what i can reflect on or how I might broach this issue when we have our meeting. Thanks for any suggestions or thoughts.
I’m offended on your behalf. Your senior colleague is interfering where it’s none of his business. He should have said to your client, “I think you need to discuss this matter directly with your therapist. It might shed some light on your issues.” Something to that effect. Obviously it’s a transference issue, and one familiar to most of us who work with clients who suffer from self-hatred and shame.
…something i perhaps needed to add to the above post…..this meeting was offered and arranged by my colleague without any prior discussion with me, my initial thought about this was it was premature and not the first option i would have considered as a helpful way to proceed.
Hello Dr. Burgo. I have been to therapy and counseling on a few occasions, and believe myself to be quite an aware person. I consistently work on my own self-development and study mind-related issues.
I have very recently started therapy again, in order to deal with a traumatic situation that occurred recently which brought up some unresolved feelings from my past. At my initial consultation, which was emotionally intense for me, the therapist brought up some core insights which I really resonated with, and which I wanted to further explore. During the second session, she did not bring these up again, and instead the session seemed to go nowhere with me just talking about many random things, and I left feeling very unsettled, confused and uncomfortable, as if it had been a pointless exercise. I did not exactly understand why I felt this way, and I didnâ€™t understand why the therapist did not guide me toward the issues we had spoken about the previous week. This feeling stayed with me for a few days until I came across some relevant material online which helped me to better understand why I was feeling the way I was.
At my last session, I explained all of this to the therapist and I asked her for some guidance as I did not want a repeat of the last session. I explained that the insights she offered at the first session had really resonated with me emotionally, and were at the forefront of my mind, and therefore I asked her if she could guide me to speak about them, as I had no idea where to begin. I asked her if perhaps she could ask me some questions to help me find my place. Unfortunately, the therapist reacted very badly to what I thought was a simple request, and began speaking very defensively to me, saying she thought I understood what therapy was about, she was not going to ask me questions as she didnâ€™t work like that, she said I only wanted a â€œquick fixâ€, or CBT, and she told me I was not being co-operative with my therapy as arguing with her was externalizing an argument I was having with my subconscious.
Finally after going back and forth for some time, with me trying to help her to understand what I was genuinely feeling as opposed to what she was insisting I was feeling (she was the therapist and her training meant she knew better) she eventually said that I was saying she was not good enough (and refused to believe me when I told her that didnâ€™t even enter my mind), and stated categorically that I argued with her the entire session, and I didnâ€™t trust her. I was in shock with all of this, and I thought it hugely ironic, as it was obvious that she didnâ€™t trust anything I was saying to her, and she kept looking for underlying motives I might have (which she stated categorically I did have). When I disagreed with her opinions, and told her I simply didnâ€™t understand where to begin dealing with the insights she offered, she would cite her training as evidence that what she said was right and I was wrong.
Always being (mis)treated with suspicion, or encountering people who believe they know better than me about who I am and what my intentions are etc… is one issue I actually came to speak to her about, and therefore I was hugely upset at the end of the session, as here she was doing the same thing! I told her that I was extremely tired feeling that way, and that if she didnâ€™t believe what I was saying, then I was not going to spend any more time trying to convince her and that therapy with her wouldnâ€™t work for me. It was then as if something changed in her, and she suddenly stopped arguing with me, saying that obviously I feel the need to justify myself to others and she must also feel that need. I apologized if I had upset her, but she did not apologize to me. I came away thinking she had acted very inappropriately, and wondered why I had apologized, and also why people in my life react this way to me!
At any rate, I decided to check out some information online regarding appropriate therapist conduct, and just general information about how sessions work and different kind of therapy, and I then came across your site. I decided that the biggest lesson I could learn from all of this was to trust myself, and to stop trying to figure out â€œwhat I did wrongâ€ as this is exactly what I started doing when in conversation with her (the â€œwhy doesnâ€™t she understand meâ€ thinking) and afterwards â€œwhat did I say to make her react like thatâ€.
Even though I am now not sure that this therapist is the right therapist for me, I have decided to go to my session this week (viewing it as possibly my last with this therapist) as I donâ€™t want to make a rash decision, or run away from a difficulty. I thought it might be beneficial if I explain the misunderstandings I had regarding my therapy expectations (I have since learned more re the distinctions between different therapies, and the kind of therapy she offers) and I thought to give her a chance to see if she can acknowledge/admit her own issues from our previous session. If she cannot, then I know for sure I need to move on, as I would not be able to trust her.
I would really appreciate your feedback on this, as all the advice you have offered above has been extremely clear, grounded and insightful.
Many thanks for your time.
It sounds to me as if your therapist felt quite defensive, as you say, and rather than listening to what you said, “blamed the patient.” This doesn’t bode well. I think you should follow your instincts, and your idea of going back for a final session just to make sure of your decision seems right. I suppose it’s possible that you’re having some kind of transference reaction, based on your statement that you have an issue with people who think they know more about you than you do, but if so, then your therapist didn’t handle it very well.
I have skimmed this somewhat. I don’t know if what my comment will have any relevance or not. Right now I am in therapy. I am in a roommate situation that turned intimate relationship. The girl seems like she has some control/abuse issue. She seems screwed up to me. I feel like she has manipulated me, and that she is two faced and just today in fact she was talking about me behind my back on the phone and I just happen to over hear it. In a session I had (today actually) I mentioned what is going on and that I had told my therapist that this situation could turn bad at any moment and I have decided to move. She said don’t. Don’t run away. Without going into all the details for an extremely long post, I feel this girl could turn violent or the situation could just turn really bad really quick. Why would she tell me not to move out? I told her that sounds like bad advice on her part. She constantly does this. And I feel like its because she really isn’t trying to help me. Am I wrong? Is there really any benefit to staying? Because that just sounds crazy to me…maybe this is not the appropriate place for this. If that is the case please disregard, and delete.
I think therapists need to be very cautious about giving advice, and only do so when they are certain. From what you tell me, your therapist didn’t have much of a basis for telling you to stay, unless she felt you had a history of breaking off relationships early and thought you needed to keep trying. Even then, I think her advice is questionable.
nice blog post!
i am going to an ED therapist and she told me she was frustrated with me because it seemed like i didn’t want to listen to what she is saying and we weren’t going anywhere… she also keeps referring to things as my “DISORDER” in this weird negative way that feels like she is using to her advantage. also, i’m vegan, and she at first she said i didn’t have to drink milk. then she brought it up in front of my dad and just puts me on the spot and made me break down and cry and when i cry she never comforts me. its just super awkward and she even said ‘ i have to pay attention to my feelings and i’m frustrated and i don’t feel a connection…’ after we talked more later with my dad in the room she got us to a place where we are going back. but for WHAT? she hasn’t even addressed what we will work on and the last 2 appointments have just been fights about food basically and i wish she would just help me with the emotions like i told her.. and she keeps saying… “we will get to that.” its so annoying! its a lot of money too. and im not underweight now, so its not like she has to shove food in my mouth and we “need” to fight about food you know?
what do you think? should i go back?
Your therapist is “blaming the patient” for her own lack of understanding. If there’s a lack of connection, it’s her job to understand why rather than to berate you. Maybe you want to look for help elsewhere.
Hi Dr. Burgo,
I’ve been in therapy for the last 14 months, and the relationship that I have with my therapist is actually a lot like a marriage (sometimes things are really good, sometimes bad, and often often unremarkably amicable).
Recently, however, our therapeutic relationship has gone downhill. I grew up with an extremely abusive father, and I coped by fantasizing about older, extremely intelligent men (teachers, guidance counselors, etc). To make matters worse, I was often given inappropriate attention by the aforementioned group, which only encouraged this desperate behavior. To make a long story short, my current therapist fits this fantasy perfectly (older, intelligent, sensitive, etc). Maybe I even chose him because I knew I could return to the comfort zone that saved me from suicide during my teenage years.
The obvious problem is that I’m not a teenager anymore. I’m a wife, and a mother, and I’d like to use therapy to help me strengthen and further appreciate these very important relationships, instead of regressing into fantasy. My current life is full of abundant blessings that I never experienced during my childhood, and I long to fully enjoy the present.
My therapist understands my need to fantasize, but he wants to eradicate what I still deem a special ability. He recently mentioned the idea that he felt used, and that maybe I was using therapy for my own personal gratification. He is currently extremely angry, and even spontaneously ended our work together at the end of a session this week. I’ve quit/threatened to quit several times before, but I recognized my behavior as resistance, and never assumed that my therapist would mirror this behavior. His anger increases when I suggest that he is uncomfortable with my attraction to him.
I’d really like to continue with this therapist because I actually believe that he is quite gifted, but I can’t figure out why he is so angry. Also, why is he so determined to rid me of my fantasies almost instantaneously? Aren’t we supposed to be able to dissect these feelings even if it takes years?
He’s agreed to continue our work together, but now I’m scared he will fly off the handle and dismiss me again. Any advice you could give me would be wonderful. Thank you so much!
Anger like that from a therapist is a potential sign that his own issues are getting in the way. He may be gifted, but that doesn’t mean he can help you work through this issue. Wanting to “eradicate” your fantasies sounds odd; instead, he should be trying to understand why and when you do it, and what you’re trying to escape.
I can’t speak for others but personally when I hated my last therapist it had nothing to do with any brilliant insight he was making. I hated him because he was chronically late to sessions, would bill me the wrong amount, kept forgetting my name, kept forgetting basic details of my life, confused me for other clients, etc. It just built up resentment and so one day I quit – haven’t missed him. Next therapist was just as useless, but she was very nice and didn’t elicit any anger from me at all. Personally I can’t feel truly angry against someone unless they have done something very wrong, like violated my rights in some way. I did resent my first therapist a lot though.
With good reason! Sometimes anger is entirely justified, as in this case.
Hi Dr J, I am in my ninth week of therapy and its the first time in my life that i have actually had any therapy. I go every mon and i find that between sessions i process and journal my thoughts, feelings etc… By Friday i am counting down the days until i can get to my next session to discuss issues that have arisen from my last session.
Last week my T told me that he was booked out for the next monday and i would have to wait two weeks to see him again.. …… I felt really rejected and abandoned and like i wasn’t important and it would not matter if i had to wait the extra week. This has brought up all kinds of emotions and im wondering if i should tell T this but i am afraid that it will sound like i have some type of ” spoilt brat syndrome” would you rather your clients were honest about what they were feeling in regard to this matter.. Or should i just suck it up and not say anything.
You should definitely tell him. But that seems odd. Don’t you have a standing hour that is yours?
my first appointment was on a monday and after our session he would look at his appoinment book and generally say “Next monday?” i would say “yes” He would offer a time slot and book it in. His office is actually half an hour away so he would come down to my suburb each monday and the rest of the week he would be seeing clients in his office base.
I didnt want to wait two weeks so i took an appointment 11 days later even though i have to drive the half and hour to see him. After reading your blogs which are really insightful i didnt want this issue to appear as though i was becoming emotionally dependant on my T but rather that i am new to therapy and have lots of thoughts, feelings and emotions running around in my head.
Thanks you so much for your reply to my blog.
hi…i don’t know much about this but i have a question…is it right to lie to a therapist? if you went to a counselor about your depressed friend and so that friend’s counselor went to them to talk to them and they just denied it and said that they’re okay and have nothing to talk about. is it right for me to tell my counselor that the friend hasn’t said anything to me because they probably didn’t think it was a big deal?
I’m not sure I understand the question but it’s never a good idea to lie to your therapist. It defeats the whole point of the work.
Hi Dr J,
I have been seeing my therapist for 8 mos. I am a high functioning borderline. Since I’ve been seeing her, my life has improved. Her style of therapy is a little bit of everything (she won’t say exactly what that is, I have asked many times) and she prides herself on being a “straight shooter.” Sometimes I think she can cross the line with that and be outright offensive, but it has never been a problem until now. I am currently in an MFT grad school program so I know a little bit about what is appropriate and what is not. My mother was in town last week. I have many conflicting feelings toward my mother, as my childhood was rampant with abuse and neglect. I see my therapist twice a week. At the first appointment during my mother’s visit, I felt paralyzed and could not say much. I was overwhelmed with anger and sadness, and was “in and out” of the session in a disassociative sort of way, if that makes sense. When I went back for the second appointment that week, my mother had been gone for one day. Now I was struggling with both the anger with my mother for the past and grief that she was gone. I was even more “resistant,” meaning I was looking out the window in silence, generally being difficult. The therapist (in my opinion) took my behavior personally and became very confrontational with me. We began to argue and things heated up. Then she said “I think this is fake anger. You’re just being fake.” I reacted very strongly to this statement and froze in silence over what I perceived as an attack reminiscent of my childhood. She became more out-of-control (in my opinion) and began accusing me of attacking her. She was on the verge of yelling, making comments like “It’s my job to tell you when you’re being fake!!! (in response to me telling her that I wasn’t being fake),” “Now you’re just repeating yourself! Is this how you talk to your husband?! Maybe this is why you have problems getting along with people!” At that point, I said something along the lines of “maybe the same is true for you.” Not good, I know. That made her really angry. Then she kept going, with things like “Now you’re telling me I don’t know how to do my job?! You’re just attacking me. You’ve been attacking me since you walked through the door. You’re pissing me off. Is this how you talk to other people?!” For the most part, I honestly don’t believe I was attacking her, but was rather trying to feel my strong feelings within the safe confines of therapy. Anyway, she kept going and getting more angry and cutting me off when I was trying to explain myself. Finally she said, again, “Is this how you talk to your husband? Like you’re an attorney or something?!” At this point I said I don’t think anything good is going to come from this and got up to leave. She said “Don’t walk out of here a victim.” I just apologized and left.
Now I really don’t know what to do. The therapy has improved my life, but I feel like I have lost so much trust and respect for her over this incident. I am willing to explore my resistance, my anger, my fear, all of it….but I don’t want to ever be talked to like that again. I don’t think things could ever be the same. I can’t find any evidence, either online or by talking with people in my life or from my school, that her behavior could be considered appropriate under any circumstance. However, I am attached to her and can’t imagine leaving. I have an appointment Tuesday and don’t know if it should be the last or not. I feel so hurt and angry and severely disappointed. I feel that I have lost my “safe place.” I also don’t know where to go from here. I know I need a therapist, but I don’t want to go through this again. I know I can be difficult, but I feel like she crossed the line.
Anyway, thank you for your posts. I enjoy reading everything you write. Take care.
Sounds to me like she did cross the line. It’s one thing to talk about anger as “defensive,” meaning that it’s covering up something else, and quite another to call you “fake.” That seems like name-calling. Plus the question “Is this the way you talk to other people?” feels blaming and like an attack on your character.
So I have had difficulty with getting along with 4 out of 5 different therapists in the past two years. Unfortunately I can’t see the only one I liked because I moved. The others I hate for what I consider extremely valid reasons, so does this mean that therapy just won’t work for me and that the one guy was a lucky once in a lifetime, or is it really possible I found the only 4 awful therapists on the planet. I want to get better, but when all I do after seeing them is cry and feel worse about myself, maybe I should stop going altogether. I’d appreciate some advice as far as what is best for my mental health.
Hating four therapists “for extremely valid reasons” sounds unlikely. I’d suggest you try another therapist and entertain the idea that your hatred might not be justified.
A person could die waiting around for an apology from an incompetent therapist. After 9 months of therapy I was discharged on the spot (with no help or follow-up; I ended up being sent to the ER by my MD) and told: a. her clients must be able to tolerate cancelled appointments without getting angry; b. I had turned the focus “on her” by becoming attached; and c. she didn’t know WHAT THIS (a wave of her hand) was. I did my own research and photocopied some info from a therapist’s manual on Borderline Personality Disorder that accurately described all that had happened in 9 months, and two weeks later got a diagnosis, by mail, without apology. The diagnosis was, of course, BPD. She won’t speak to me at all, but I’m still reeling from her callousness.
Find yourself a good therapist. I’m sorry to hear you had such a bad encounter with a therapist who sounds fairly unskilled.
Hi, I was recently in therapy because my doctor said it would be of a great benefit to me. I never really understood what therapy was about until recently. The therapist listened to me and participated actively, however there was a moment when she made an interpretation of my words that I trully disliked because those words meant that she was thinking that all of my problems had only one reason. Actually all she needed to do was ask a question and I realized what she was thinking. From that moment on the sessions where similar to hell for me because I could no longer feel comfortable with her and because her thoughts, that I fiercely resisted meant I could not tell her about other things that were happening in my life because she would try to justify her thoughts with “autosabotage” on my part. It is like she drew a wall between us and I sincerely felt very bad. Are we slaves of what therapists believe? In my case I was very much offended because she thought something about me as part of my reality not my unconscious mind and when she could no longer support this idea she kept on insisting to inforce it and I felt ashamed, in pain and angry (violently angry) most of the time. I do understand what you explain but I think the majority of us go to therapy because we believe it to be a place where we can be listened and have some sort of peace, however, if all of our words will be used against us to make us angry then what is the point? Who pays to feel worse? I recently came to an understanding of what therapy really is. It consists of bringing the unconscious mind back to life and this would be liberating and cure us. It also means that we are supposed to obbey our innerselves even if we deny this and we consciously want different lives for us. Do we know this when we go to therapy? I do not think so. To tell you the truth I have made an appointment for an interview next week and I am considering cancelling because I honestly believe that I am a lot better without it. There are many problems in life that are coincidences and not things that we subconsciouly bring to ourselves. We are not responsible for absolutely everything in our lives, we live in a society and we interact with others who may also have problems affecting them and us. I am not saying I am not responsible but therapists believe the world we have is our own doing and I disagree. Some things cannot be changed as much as we would like to. When you say “no” in session it means “yes” for psychotherapists. This attitude may lead you to believe you hit the target but you just simply irritated the client or patient. This cannot produce health. How can and angry patient improve? Do we have to take your words as the ultimate truth? CanÂ´t you be wrong? I would like your feedback on this because I have been very interested in this subject since it happened to me because I am very disappointed on the results.
The client always determines what is true in the end. A therapist who continues insisting on her point of view when it doesn’t feel right to the client is just … well, a bad therapist. You should never have to take a therapist’s opinion as gospel. Clients often resist the truth, but that doesn’t mean the therapist should become dogmatic and insistent. Instead, if the therapist is “right,” more material will come up to validate that view and ultimately convince the client of its truth.
My therapist was certainly dogmatic. We were enmeshed. So enmeshed that it felt like emotional incest. I felt violated.
I will never trust another therapist ever again.
“The job of a good therapist is to make you aware of those things you donâ€™t know about yourself (and probably never wanted to know) .”
And probably still don’t want to know. Why would you?
“bringing a bit of the unknown (and unwanted) parts of yourself into the light.”
Surely “unwanted” means “not wanted”. It doesn’t mean “might be enjoyable”.
For what purpose? I find this baffling. Could someone please explain? The article doesn’t explain why seeing yourself in a bad light would be a good thing.
Bonnie Burton’s post suggests that through therapy she discovered herself to be, in her own words, an “idiot” and not a “good” person. Why would anyone pay someone to make them feel that way? Surely that in itself is insane.
The article says that humans protect themselves from things that are “too painful to bear”. It doesn’t say things that are “somewhat painful” or “a bit awkward” it says “too painful to bear” and then suggests that people who are protecting themselves from these things are in the wrong.
I do understand that rather a large part of the premise of psychotherapy is to do these things but I don’t understand why it is thought to be beneficial. The world is full of opportunities to have a bad time for free. Why pay for it?
Hello! I am a therapist with teenagers in a somewhat voluntary program. It is a therapeutic special education program working with students with mental illness. One of my clients, whom I have been working with for 1 year, has been attempting to push me away since the start of our work and outwardly presents as a nonvoluntary client. The client has stated that they “hate” mental health professionals from past experience and therefore “hates” me. I have tried multiple approaches to create a therapeutic bond and at the moment progress seems to be made, the client will revisit the reasons they hate me and say inappropriate comments towards me when around other students. This client has presented with abondonement issues regarding their past, and I believe the client is trying to reaffirm their belief that “everyone leaves” which is causing the deliberate refusal to participate in individual/group therapy. Any ideas on how I can encourage the client to work through these feelings or address deeper issues without reaffirming their beliefs regarding mental health professionals?
Boy, that sounds too complicated to address in a short response to your comment. Sounds like you might need some good supervision.
I am at a crossroads and don’t know what to do. It will be hard for me to correctly address every aspect as my way is quite complex and confused and prone to blame and resistance.
I have been in psychoanalysis for 10 years( I was still thinking 5 0r 6 years but its been 10)
the classic never contact between sessions, no chit chat on the way in, therapist behind me on couch. I don’t think he hates me but I don’t think he likes me.
The therapist I feel understands my way of operating extremely well, better than I still want to understand it. I have a fantasy-want someone to save me, to be the all encompassing mother I never had, I am needy and defensive and manipulate and think getting angry ( not necessarily outwardly)will win my tormentors over ( and most everyone in my mind is a tormentor) and get them to see me and feel bad and make it all up to me, all it does is make people dislike me.
This all becomes very complex because I am quite aware of the things I do but still continue to hold on, am quite paranoid everyone hates me( which they also possibly do due to my actions etc but there is a deeper feeling too) Know I am a huge common denominator in all these ” bad situations”. I know the things I do are not endearing but hope someone or everyone will see beyond this to see the poor sad child needing love.I am also reluctant to take full responsibility for my actions because I feel like thats saying everyone else is right and I’m wrong, or my parents were right to dismiss me, reject me and abuse me. everything I do centers around others and my relationship with them, mostly negative interactions I will obsess over for days or more. There’s so many more nuances, I have a lot of anger but am not comfortable with that, am very deluded even though consciously I know its bullshit that tomorrow or next session or etc I will stop all this and be better and so its okay, and extremely sad and empty etc.
In therapy we have gotten to the point where I just tell examples or stories of these situations and always end up at the same point, he’s supposed to fix me or save me or i could do it if he would just help me, I get defensive and upset and default to but I just don’t really know how to do it or I have no choice I can’t help it, he defaults to that I am saying I’m not interested in the work I have another agenda. Now all this is true, I do try but I think he’s right, to seem like a good trying person but not really doing it for me or to really do it. I don’t really want to see how I am because it involves me being wrong and bad, the main factor and due to my past that means way more than just how I act now.I get upset and sad and hard done by in therapy but also everywhere in my life, he says as the victim needing more suffering for my fantasy saviour to finally see and come . anyway on one hand I can see how all this works, but on another I still want it and any realizations are very superficial, the system keep feeding itself over and over. In some ways my life has gotten a bit better and in others worse, and its been a long long time. We never laugh and I’m a pretty funny person, he only sees this side of me, and he sees me as an only negative instigator with people which is true but I also have a caring kind side.
So my problem is that we have gotten to a point, I actually was thinking of leaving last year, now he is saying its getting close to the end if I keep deciding to go the same way every-time.
( the funny thing is he says he initiated it last but I did)
Anyway this is where it gets very tricky, I know I will very likely do the same thing with someone else, I do keep doing the same thing over and over so how does he deal with that after 10 years. I know I do hope ( sort of secretly) someone new will be the magic I have sought my whole life. But also know dynamics between people can be a factor too.
But and heres where I often oscillate between is it me or them, he also does nothing different ever, he mentioned something about me getting my father to hit me around as a child as I do prompt negative attention from people ( if this was an example though its a very bad one surely, as this did happen to me and surely this was not my fault) and he said I was abusing his services because I had to cancel a few times lately on very short notice because I am about to finish my masters and am under huge overwhelming pressure which he knows and had other meetings or work to do. He told me if I do it again without appropriate notice( which is quite long!) I will loose my appointment time. I think abuse is a very strong word to use, especially knowing very well that I have major issues.
Although this does feed into me wanting to be able to “get away” with things because people should understand my issues and see the poor sad child they come from. I just want to blame someone else for everything in my life, I know am resistant and he has been patient but is 10 years too long with no real progress? Can therapists break through these barriers or am I dreaming. I also see a more counsellor type of woman who work more on body/mind connection is possibly a bit new age which I’m not a fan of but maybe she has helped me more in only a year or two? I’m afraid to leave the other one, he really does get my ways but maybe he also constantly reinforces it over and over. there is never much positivity or kindness, which I understand but am also extremely sensitive to be unloved and unimportant.
I am so torn between its him and its me, I am often late or take a long time to pay have done the same thing over and over for years so I see his frustration, I am afraid to take responsibility for myself because that means big things for me, perhaps someone else is better but he also knows so well, and again it is also a trap of repeating behaviors for years.
I really need to change but I don’t know how I ever will, its either lala land oh yes I will I’m doing it now I feel better its going to happen, or I can’t I’m too helpless, or I feel overwhelmed and desperate and sad and angry or I’m totally resistant deep down. Because everything I do is projection and interaction to get some sort of attention from people, mostly just lived out in my mind as I have learnt its best not to display these things too much though they do defiantly seep out a lot. I have lost a lot of friends, been single most of my life, have big issues from childhood and am running my life into the ground of endless suffering, anger, despair loneliness, but I hold on and on and on and Don’t know how to wake myself up so to speak, I am also one of my tormentors who never comes through for me.
Its so much more complex but I’m sure you get the jist. I don’t know how to use my therapy for myself, to do anything for myself and not to effect others, I don’t know if I should stay with him or If i just want to run away of if this is more suffering to stay. I can’t stop wanting him to fix me so really what can he do? I’m sorry this is so long, but I wanted to give a clear picture, maybe you can save me now too. part joke part not. I also do this tell the story of my troubled ways over and over but never do anything about it. I am also prone to be very hard on myself and he reinforces this, the other concellor supports me and recognizes how far i’ve come.
Would another therapist help me? or how can I break through with this one after 10 years?
How do I take responsibility for myself and what is his responsibly and ability?
he is like the cold detached unsupportive parents where everything was my fault, even though it probably is now. Is there a way through in this sort of situation?
Please see my Guidelines for Submitting Comments.
sorry I know my post was extremely long, I didn’t realize till after I posted it! I wish I had read the guidelines properly and kept it short. I appreciate you can’t give advice to everyone that would take a huge amount of time but any advice anyone may have would be greatly appreciated.
Perhaps I should remove the older post and write it again, short and sweet? thanks.
If you’d like to do that, I’ll be happy to approve it.
Okay heres a shorter version of my mammoth post. I hopes its still not too long.
I fear my therapist hates me but more so that we are both wasting our time.
I have been with him for 10 years, classic analysis style- sits behind, no chit chat, no between contact, often won’t answer my questions, no homework. I feel a lot of anger towards him because he isn’t helping or fixing me!
We now just always get to the same point, talk about the same things, over and over and over.
He knows me very, very, very well in one sense, the fantasy I have of being saved by that one person who will see the sad lonely child I am inside and the rejection, victimization and abuse, helplessness, neediness I create with others and myself to attempt to bring this about. I have become very angry, bitter, needy, have pushed most of my friends away, have been single for a long time and obsess constantly over these stories of suffering “poor me no one loves me or they keep abusing me” situations. Everyone is my tormentor including myself. Anyway there is a lot involved. He also feeds directly into that rejection etc with the therapy style he employs.
the thing I wonder is if this is a dynamic between me and my therapist or if no one can help me because I don’t really want help just magic saving? To my therapist I constantly refuse or choose to not get help in the way it can happen with him. To me it feels out of my control.
I know this is a ‘trap’, that I am the common denominator, that I am in control of myself,
that I am not helpless or can’t do it and that it does come down to me, but this is conscious thought, the way I act and function does not feel this consciously aware or relatable. is there a better therapeutic way to get someone who is resistant and
“trapped” wether thier own doing or not to move out of it? Or am I hoping for a miracle.
I have come to see with him my resistance is very, very strong and my issues have a very firm hold on me and have for a very, very, very long time. But after 10 years in analysis I am possibly getting worse in some ways and am not moving. I sometimes wonder if his constant reinforcing of your not doing it, your refusing,your not taking up what’s offered, just sets it further in stone. The detached style of course also feeds into parental styles and unimportance.
Yes I do want to blame him for things not working although I am aware on a conscious level I am a major problem and contributor as I am in all areas of my life. I think I need to be blaming someone at all times, as well as myself.
But the other point is will any sort of therapy be able to help me? Is there anyway I can break through with him and myself? How do I combat resistance, I feel as I can’t or don’t know how?
How can I take responsibility and make changes in my life when perhaps deep down I don’t want to for some reason. Is it time to move on or is that just the hope the next person will be the one. How can I help myself to get real and do something! To use therapy to help not just add to my life story of rejection?
There’s an awful lot of questions there, and beyond what I can address in a reply. Maybe other readers will have a response that might help.
A cop-out reply, as usual. If you are not making any headway with the therapist and things appear to be getting worse instead of better, then he’s not going to help you. Be aware that some therapists are adept at victim blaming, so the problem may not necessarily lie with you after all.
You can get rid of my other super long post. Thanks!
Can you just answer me if 10 years talking about the same block over and over and not moving beyond it, is it time for a change? Any answer you might have or comment to my post even short would be very, very greatly appreciated! Thank you!
Ray, ten years is an awfully long time. If you feel stuck, like you’re not getting anywhere, and your therapist is simply blaming it on your resistance, I’d say it time to move on, at least to get an outside consultation.
Can a therapist be 100% objective like not being his judgment be clouded by his personal, cultural, religious, etc, history?
I am extremely mad at my therapist because I sometimes felt misunderstood and judged by him. When that happens, I really resent him because I feel like he analyzes everything from his own culture, as if it should be an universal benchmark.
I am an African woman who has lived for the past 2 decades in both Europe and North America. I donâ€™t like talking about my personal life at work and I have some coworkers who find that standoffish. The thing is that discretion and reserve are highly appreciated and people who are always telling outside what happens in their homes, are definitely frowned upon in my culture. Besides, as far as I am concerned, when it comes to work, I am hired to do my job, not to find so-called friends. So even though I understand that some people might think that work is another place to have â€œfriendsâ€ and that a way of seeming friendly is to tell everyone what you ate the day before with your family, well I donâ€™t feel the need to do so. I already have friends, the ones who wake up at 3 AM to drive you to the hospital, not these superficial relationships people have with each other and that they deem friendships (I hate Facebook by the way:-)). I am very fine with being just civil with my coworkers and what should matter is how competent I am at my job. Since when work has become a popularity contest?
My therapist doesnâ€™t seem to respect or get that and I am so sick of having to explain to him that someone doesnâ€™t have to be like everyone else to do one’s job, that there is nothing wrong with me and if we were in a different country, heâ€™ll be surprised to see that his and my coworkersâ€™ interpretation of â€ being approachableâ€ would be questioned. Sometimes, I just wonder if it wouldnâ€™t be easier to find a therapist who has been in contact with different cultures, people, I mean someone who understands that sometimes the problem is a cultural one, someone who knows how to stop being eurocentric. Yesterday, I had to tell him that we’re 7 billion of people on earth and that we couldn’t be expected to be all the same or view everything the same way.
Anyway, I am writing this and I can feel myself being mad again at my therapist.
Warren, one of the regular commenters on this site, once said that he believes all therapy is culturally bound, and I’m inclined to agree. If we work really hard, we may be able to be objective and not view a client from a different culture through our own particular lens, but I think it’s very difficult.
On the other hand, I remember a friend of mine who worked in the Peace Corps and returned from Morocco with a husband. After living in our culture for about a year, he began to become conscious of all sorts of feelings about his parents that he never would have recognized had he remained in Morocco. So are people really different at heart, or do different cultures inhibit or permit us to experience certain universal emotions?
I don’t know, but your therapist should at least have respected your values.
I don’t have much advice to give, but I want to let you know that I can really relate to your story. While I have not had 10 years of psychoanalysis, I feel some of the same pains you describe of wanting to be “fixed” somehow. It’s almost like I want the therapist to understand me to the point it magically makes it better – the alternative makes me want to throw up. That’s how sick it makes me: this idea that I must carry my own baggage – my lot in life -and just move on. So I get to lose out on a childhood I should’ve had, parents who should’ve seen me but were too absorbed in their own issues (yadda yadda I could go on all day but you probably see where I am going with this) and I am left (ONCE AGAIN) to pick up the pieces while my therapist just watches. It’s a reenactment. It doesn’t seem anywhere near fair, does it? Have you expressed any of the resistant/angry feelings with emotion attached? You probably have, but I’m at a loss of how to break through this for myself- just wondering aloud…
I’m beginning to think that anger is a bigger part of my own story than I had originally thought. I am damaged inside due to emotional abuse and neglect and that doesn’t only cause sadness, but I’m sure a lot of anger as well. Probably justified. And maybe I have to stand up to that scolding feeling, you know? The one that mocks me and says, “get over it, suck it up, grow up, you are such a baby, you’re a waste of time!” The one I secretly internalize and project onto others, back down from helplessly and then beat myself up over mercilessly. Maybe I need to react somehow and fight it? I don’t know how to move past it for sure… I don’t know, but I’m hoping I can channel the anger in a way that can propel me forward through this therapeutic journey…
Not sure if that helps at all, but just know that I hear you.
Hi Dr. Burgo, it’s Mary again. I just wanted to tell you that I think your answer was very helpful and that I did not cancel my interview. Right now I have a different therapyst. I have been with her for a couple of months. Things are going well but….you know I think I get it now….I honestly believe that we are not fully aware of what a therapy is about and since we do not really know about psychoanalysis we believe it to be a place where we will find support and nice words and……this is so not it! The job of the analyst is to help us see things that we cannot see for ourselves because we cannot hear ourselves, we need another person for this. This person is as human as we are and may or may not make a mistake. I will put my faith in therapy once more because it is not entirely up to the analyst, it is really all about me. If I want to see I will and if I donÂ´t nobody will make me see. The truth is within myself. Anger is not productive but is revealing, it is not healthy but it can provide the key to the cure. The attitude has to be different, I am going through this new experience with the idea that something will come up that will be painful but I still want to hear it since I am not perfect. I know I will be angry and I have already told her that I want to handle this in session if it arises. I want to change things for me. This is the very reason why we go to therapy. Thank you for allowing us all to vent with our posts Dr. Burgo. Your answer has been with me all this time. It is amazing that you probably took a few seconds of your time to read and answer me and with this your helped me so much.
That sounds great, Mary. You seem to have just the right attitude for confronting those difficult truths ahead.
I began seeing a therapist about two years ago. I went to to deal with problems in a past relationship and to deal with work issues. Most of my work issues consist of me being paranoid and sensitive. I admit that I can take things a little personally. At the first session of therapy, I answered a questionairre and was immediately told that I am severely depressed. Now I kow that I might not neccessarily be the happiest person in the world, but I was able to have a full time job, my own apartment, pay my bills, maintain a healthy weight, and do moderate exercise. I began crying when she told me this information. I procceeded with the therapy. I found that we were always talking about my childhood and my relationship with my family. I look back on my childhood as a happy time. It was not perfect, but it wasn’t bad either. I would cry at almost each session. Instead of saying that it was alright to cry, she acted like I was this really depressed person who was always in tears. This made me angry because that is what I thought I was there for. To let everything out. Its not like I am running around crying in public. I also wanted to talk more about the issues that I deal with on a daily basis. This very rarely happened. She also told me that it is very scary how incapable that I am of making adult decisions. Excuse me. Like I didn’t finish college, get a masters degree, and have a successful career. What decsions are you talking about exactly? And isnt’ incapable a rather strong word? She also told me that I have anger issues that stem from my childhood. Poeople who know me say that I am very easy going. This made me all paranoid, and I ended up being super nice to everyone from then on. I don’t want to be this raging angry person. We only talked about what she wanted to talk about. Maybe I just don’t understand therapy. She also always told me that I needed to date online. I have nothing against online dating, but it is not for me. At no time did I mention in therapy that meeting someone was one of my goals. I did meet a nice guy while in therapy. Not online, not that there is anything wrong with that. The guy treated me very well. We had a great time, but he ended up moving for work. As soon as he moved, she looked at me head shaking and said that I immediately need to begin online dating. Like yesterday. When I told her that I met the last nice guy at a party, she acted like that was like finding a unicorn and that it was likely to never happen again. When I wanted to talk to her about how to handle problems at work, she said that my problems stemmed from me not online dating. Being a single woman is of course a very unhappy existence. You need to buy all of your own food, cook, clean, and do everything by yourself. I ended up getting angry with my family over holiday time for not being sensitive to how difficult my life as a single woman is and for not being more accomidating to my needs as a single woman. I don’t feel that way now. The therapist said I am very depressed and very anxious. Well, now I no longer have a job. This also made me angry. Yes, I quit. Now I did learn some things from her. Maybe I am just resistent to the process. Maybe my account of things is different from hers. I don’t know. I don’t see her anymore, but I am left feeling very confused.
Even if your therapist had some good points to make, important issues to raise, it sounds like she did so in a clumsy, insensitive fashion.
I no longer know what to do , where to turn.
my soul has been crushed by the betrayal of my long term psychiatrist., among a litany of grindingly sad things.
I have no questions.
wish I had some great wisdom to share, I don’t .
Sorry to take up this much space/ wishing you all great courage & endurance w a pinch of luck
xxxxx Beless us all.
I do hate my therapist. I first went to him because I needed help getting out of a destructive relationship and because I suffer from severe social anxiety. After a couple of months of me talking about this guy he told me (he was very angry) “We’re here to talk about you, not about him” I understood… but after that I was too embarrassed to share my feelings or experiences, I saw the guy in question a lot more times but never told him, felt as if he would judge me. Then there was my situation at the office, I hated everyone, I had problems with everyone because (I understand it now) my own issues, I mean, my boss was very difficult and it was not a healthy environment, but that type of thing happens in all jobs; when I talked to him about it he would support my bad opinions about others instead of helping me deal with the situation. I started talking about quitting and being a freelance, he said I should… when I finally did it (I got angry about something and quit, it wasn’t even a planned decision) he seemed surprised, but he supported my decision. I am now completely isolated, no friends, no family, no formal job, freelancing requires a lot of networking and that’s very difficult for me, so I don’t work that much, I’m deeply depressed… I told him that maybe I should look for a formal job, he told me “you weren’t happy in a formal job, why would you do that?” and his solutions to my problems? : “You should be more spontaneous, go to the airport and take a flight to a place you’ve never been before… oh, but I know you wont do it because you’ll tell me you’re afraid of it” or “take acting classes” or “you have a very funny and sarcastic way of expressing yourself, you should try standup comedy” I wonder how am I supposed to be a comedian when I’m afraid of leaving the house. I blame him for my present situation, I know my decisions are my responsibility but I feel as if it was his job to protect me from myself. Am I right to feel this way or is it just a normal “patient reaction”? I hope I’ve expressed myself correctly, english is not my first language
Your therapist sounds fairly incompetent. Don’t hate him; just look for someone better.
Thank you for your reply 🙂 I did end the relation with my former therapist and found a new one, had my first session yesterday… and I have to say, looking at her neutral face, listening to her comments and having to repeat things about me that I’ve talked about 1000 times put me in a really bad mood… it will take at least 3 or 4 sessions for her to know just the basics of who I am and what my issues are; maybe I should take a break from therapy
Yeah, I know. It is very frustrating to have to start over. Hang in there.
I believe it is wrong to tell a patient not to hate. I don’t believe that the therapist has the right to tell a patient what emotions they are and are not entitled to.
I completely agree.
I’ve read this post several times. I’m firing my theraist tomorrow and it is so painful. She got her stuff in my therapy (own life stressors and she took it out on me). She admitted an owned her stuff. Unfortunately, what she said and when hit my attachment an relational trauma like a bomb. She has become the “object” while I’ve been doing amazing work (she is an specialized adjunct I see in addition to my more seasoned primary therapist). Even though I try to differentiate its gotten so bad I feel like I’m playing both sides of my therapy. She will tell me how she feels about things I am thinking or saying and tell me wht I am thinking or feeling. She had said she would try to assume less and ask me questions but she hasn’t. The last straw was two sessions ago being told “listen, I am NOT your parents, the transference ends now”. Even despite me (and my other therapist…) explaining I realize and am fully conscious of and trying to own the feelings triggered in my therapy as they relate to my parents. It’s turned in to a horrific re enactment and I feel like a failure terminating. It’s awful. I really adore her strengths but talking about this all for 6 months now 🙁 anyway just browsing the Internet trying to sort my feelings.
Sounds like you’ve made the right decision. Any therapist who would say, “I am NOT your parents, the transference ends now” has no idea about how to work with transference issues.
Dear Dr B, I read your article plus all of the questions and answers here with interest as I recently had a ‘fit of rage’ on my new Psychotherapist. I’m diagnosed with BPD and she works within the framework of DBT. I was confused about my anger as she didn’t really do anything to cause it. It is by no means my first therapeutic intervention, in fact I’ve had every type of failed therapy from psychoanalysis to group work over the last 10 years. I’ve loathed some of my 1:1 therapists and discontinued but never felt actual rage towards one before. Having read your opinions and comments here, I now realise my anger was indeed not about her and was my own issue which for some reason I must finally have felt in a safe enough place to vent. I felt dismayed at the time as although I was in an incredibly destructive mood, I found myself raging critically at her about our previous session – which although it hadn’t been too great, certainly wasn’t the issue causing pent up anger (that had in fact built up as a result of a visit to my mother). I basically went off like a small volcano but made it quite personal to the new therapist and at times she looked somewhat dismayed and slightly upset although maintained a calm and steady demeanour. I feel extremely distressed about maybe having hurt her feelings or have been too verbally abusive. I will fully discuss this with her next time I see her and am well able to separate the parts that were valid criticisms of the previous session and the (huge) parts that were just me spewing out venomous rage. I need to know for myself that she has the capacity to both contain me when I was somehow triggered into an angry frustrated fearful child state of mind and also deflect my inappropriate anger from herself. I genuinely wasn’t attempting to ‘test’ her but seemingly it has turned out that way. I’m also concerned she doesn’t think I do this often, I’ve literally never done it to any therapist before. For the benefit of other people, I can see clearly here this one incident of rage filled hatred was absolutely not connected to the therapist or therapy and was solely about me and trauma being triggered. I’m not saying all cases are like this, they’re not, but many are. Also I feel that as much as I may have been unconsciously ‘testing’ which I feel quite embarrassed about, so are some other people here and it does seem to me some people have unrealistic expectations of therapy / therapists and their set boundaries. Good luck to everyone on their journey.
I think if you bring these thoughts and realizations to your therapist, it will take your therapy even deeper.
I was wondering if you might elaborate how to tell the difference of when a therapist is hated because participating in therapy is hard for the person, and when it is possibly more of an indication that a different therapist or therapy style would be more appropriate? Specifically, how would a parent of a child in therapy who claims to hate the therapist/therapy be able to sort out the difference?
That’s hard to answer in any kind of general way. I’d have to know the specifics.
BACKGROUND: The child is 8yo diagnozed with a Mood Disorder NOS and Aspergers. The child is concurrently seeing a child psychiatrist and attempting to get moods stabilized – it’s a work in progress so to speak – and therapy has been recommended as you might expect. The current psychologist has been working with him for about 6 months and the current goal remains developing anger management/coping skills. TYPICAL SESSION: The child will only mildly resist to going to therapy at first, perhaps just a moan and say “not her!” The session starts with a 5-minute briefing where we discuss some of how his week went, in the most recent session we relay a fit of rage that happened at school that started with sneaking toys to school, and ended with making death threats, running after one of the special education teachers and a student while flapping his arms and screaming and then biting/chewing his arm in frustration (not, unfortunately, an atypical type of occurence at school/home/store or otherwise). During this exchange the child seemed to be embarassed and ashamed of the recounting of the events and slouched in the chair. Therapist interrupts several times to tell him to sit up, say he will have to sit in a different chair etc. I wonder if she is actually trying to make him mad (it’s not hard to do), if this is part of a therapy technique. Then the parent is dismissed so she can work with him just the two of them, and by this time child has elevated voice, not hardly even seating in a chair, actively defying her request to move to a different chair. From the waiting room you can hear the kicking, screaming, and occassionally an attempt to run out of the door to escape. After therapy the child is very worked up, not about the chair presumably. He recounts how there was a worksheet and she kept erasing his answer (note – we are used to his perception of events being different than most, so we always ask lots of questions to any story he tells to try to imagine how others perceived the situation). He was agitated about this for hours, she kept erasing his answer, repeating this phrase in frustration and disgust over his percevied unfairness over and over. With prompting we gather he was supposed to write down things “about his angry feelings”, he was listing actions he actually did in the office that day like kicking her furniture, screaming and trying to run away and she was prompting him that perhaps he could go “angry just inside your eyes, with your eyes shut” he says it is no fair, he answered the worksheet and she kept erasing it, he hates her. (He always has a different reason to hate her, but the intensity seems to be escalating). I wonder if he had any idea that she was trying to help him think of less destructive ways to act when he gets angry, when I attempt to explain it to him he doesn’t get it. He just concentrating on how he hates her and it is unfair. THOUGHTS: I don’t even know what I should be looking for anymore in either choosing or retaining a therapist for him, not to mention gauging whether or not it is possibly productive. I’ve never contemplated dropping one before, most others get exasperated while working with him long before I give up hope it might help, eventually. We have had several other therapist over the past 4 yrs (therapy ended each time when the therapist indicated they didn’t think they were qualified to help him, weren’t a good match, weren’t progressing, he either refused to say anything to some of them or just joyfully played toys with others – this is the first that he has hated).
He sounds like a major challenge, and probably beyond the skills of most therapists. It does seem to me that he has a transference going, where he is bringing uncontrollable anger and rage into the room and into their relationship — that’s a good thing if the therapist knows how to deal with it. Unfortunately, she sounds like a CBT-type therapist who doesn’t work at all with the transference.
Thank you for your insightful comment. I believe we will begin to seek a therapist that has background and skills to deal with transference, but meanwhile continue care with the current therapist. It may be a long search to truly find someone capable of helping him significantly, but at least this gives me some new ideas on what to look for next.
I am feeling not total hatred but anger and disappointment with my therapist, to the point I don’t know if she’s right for me all of a sudden. We do online therapy. I shared a music video that was deeply relevant to me, a dark one, but with a redeeming ending. I was in a great mood when I found it, exuberant, and really looked forward to sharing it with her. I was hoping to have a lighter-level session on the eve of me taking a much needed one week break from what is usually 3x a week therapy. But… she said the video was disturbing.
I had a realization, it felt like, the same type maybe others have had when you’re dating or in a relationship, and the other person says something that just opens your eyes to the fact they’re not right for you. She said she didn’t like videos like that, too violent, etc. and told me how she walked out on a violent movie. I felt SO rejected… my heart was kind of tied up in that video. It was dark and had scary moments, but it had an empowering heroine and a positive ending, I was shocked actually that I disturbed her by sharing it, and very sad and felt she wasn’t there for me. She told me after she’d been in a very different place emotionally, a celebratory one, and so the video was jarring. Told me she identified with some of the action and it exacerbated her negative reaction.
But I got very mad and felt that if she can’t deal with a disturbing video… she can’t deal with me. If she couldn’t find the beauty in it, the poetry and the powerful message of it… I felt she is to shallow and lives in more of a Mary Poppins world than I can ever hope to inhabit. I know that is unkind of me to say and I know it’s judgmental, but I don’t feel she can relate to me, and really be in the trenches with me somehow. She’s been there for me discussing abuse and other difficult topics, says nothing is too much for her, but I felt like I got a more honest reaction when she was suddenly faced with the video, and now I don’t know….
What do you think? I have written her letters to follow up, mad letters about how I think she should be ready to work when she’s in session, open to serious things like this, and that if it’s too disturbing for her, then so am I. 🙁 She said it wasn’t “too” disturbing, but.. I don’t want to make her unhappy… I found the dark video powerful, compelling, with some beauty in it… and I want to be with someone who can see that, or I’m just embarrassed to have those parts in myself. Please help?
Maybe you have to accept that she isn’t perfectly attuned to you. This doesn’t mean she can’t help you. No therapist can understand everything perfectly, and they will inevitably disappoint us from time to time, just as good-enough parents sometimes disappoint their children.
Thanks so much for your on-target reply. I have let my guard down with her, feel very vulnerable in ways I’m not accustomed to lately, so sometimes I feel the sting of rejection much more strongly, even when unintentional. We worked it out within a couple of days as she gave the video another chance and apologized for her strong reaction getting in the way of what I wanted to share. The impromptu nature of our sessions sometimes complicates things I think, easier to misstep when she’s not prepared for a session with me, but it’s a blessing simultaneously. My only regret now is posting this publicly, but… c’est la vie I suppose, unless you are able and willing to remove it?
I’m so glad! It’s almost always better just to talk it out with your therapist.
If you don’t mind my saying and after reading some of these comments would you agree that SOME therapists are idiots?
I have BPD and after struggling just to get through life and survive for 50 yrs finally the fact that i’m not living, am chronically lonely and totally isolated, long term unemployed and have oodles of problems to go with etc made the health service realise that perhaps i need help. I had 2 yrs psychotherapy with a therapist with whom i developed a really close, trusting and caring relationship. I can’t deny i became very dependent on him- not surprising given my background an circumstances. Whenever he had to cancel sessions for annual leave i told him how bad it made me feel. He never mentioned ending our sessions, not once. One day all of a sudden he announced he was leaving. I haven’t seen him since. I am utterly devastated. i can’t believe he let me down like that . Ever since – this was 6 mths ago- i’ve been depressed, very tearful and just can’t get over it or move on. It really hurt and still does. WHAT CAN I DO??? i’m desperate. Part of me is desperate to be with him again and never let him go again, part of me is so furious i want to revenge and destroy him back
He terminated your therapy during a single session without any notice whatsoever? That’s outrageous and in my opinion, constitutes professional malpractice. As for what you can do, all I can suggest is that you try again. Not all therapists are so callous.
My recent experience with my therapist has left me both angry and disappointed. My sessions were once a month. I was being treated for stress, anxiety and depression, after traumatic events in my life. Whenever I would tell him of positive changes happening in my life he would put them down . At first I thought this was some type of reverse psycology but when he started to put down my physical looks, I knew this was very unprofressional. My first instinct was to reply to him and say, have you yourself looked in the mirror. My therapist always looked like he just climbed out of bed unkempt and unshaven. I think I regret not saying this to him. Because my therapy and meds were being paid by the Canadian Government who do you complain to.I’m sure there are good and bad therapists.I believe that therapists and psychologists should be evaluated themselves to determine whether they are of sound mind.
I don’t know who you should complain to, but you should definitely find yourself a different therapist!
My problem is that my therapist seems to resent the fact that I don’t take all of her advice, or accept all of her opinions, and gets as emotional as I do when we quarrel, which is often, and is often about distractions like… whether I take all of her advice and accept all of her opinions. She tells me I am uniquely resistant among her patients and I accuse her of being ridiculously domineering. I respect her overall judgment and believe she means well, but there are times when I think she’s crazier than I am, and that makes me feel very insecure . I thought tilt was the patient’s job to emote and the therapist’s to analyze; instead we bicker almost like an estranged couple. Is this typical?
If you’re quarreling with your therapist, that is a very bad sign. Also, a therapist who accuses her clients of being resistant doesn’t really understand resistance and how to work with it.
Brief follow up: Is it my job to more or less freely vent, perhaps allowing a full transference to occur, or is it to have a modulated “adult” conversation with the therapist in which I treat her essentially as a stranger and remain scrupulously mindful of her personal idiosyncrasies? I had a different therapist who had me “practice” going on a date, carrying on a social conversation and holding hands in a movie theater, for example. That’s a lot different from listening to me free associate and then offering an interpretation.
It would depend on the type of therapy. If the therapist works with the transference, he or she would encourage you to give full expression to your actual feelings, whatever they may be. Therapists uncomfortable with transference prefer a more “modulated ‘adult’ conversation,” as you put it.
What if you’re angry with your therapist because you feel they interrupt you when explaining yourself and you feel they no longer believe anything you say? I don’t understand why but with my therapist I feel paralyzed and unable to speak up for myself. She’ll interrupt me before I finish a thought and that leaves me feeling like I can’t talk to her. I also have a problem with “hypochondriacing” things so she no longer trusts me. For example I explained I had a bad side effect to a new medication and she thought I made it up because she had never heard of that reaction before- which I wasn’t it was a severe reaction- other people witnessed the side effects and I went to the doctors and they weren’t surprised at my reaction to the medicine at all and not to take it. This has made me very upset and I feel like I cannot trust her.
If you have a therapist who doesn’t listen and who insists you “make things up,” rather than trying to understand what you’re telling her, I would suggest getting an outside consultation. Maybe you’re with the wrong therapist.
I have stumbled upon this website upon looking up bad therapy experiences. I have been in therapy for roughly 9 months and I don’t feel like anything in my life has improved at all – in some ways I feel it has made me feel worse. “Find a new therapist” is not an easy option as there are so few of them where I come from.
In hopes of an answer, I basically have two questions:
– is it normal for a therapist to make you feel like anger is not an acceptable emotion under any circumstance? ( eg – if you’re feeling angry you must *always* think of what you did wrong in that situation *first* and how it could have went differently )
– does normal therapy consist only of “what does that make you feel?” and “what do you think about that?”, because that’s basically all I’m getting most of the time and it feels like I’m literally talking to myself without getting any relevant feedback.
No, it is not usual practice for a therapist to make you feel like anger is unacceptable, and no, (good) therapy doesn’t only consist of such simplistic and stereotypical questions.
First sorry for my english, it’s not my mother tongue.
I have a big problem with my therapy, which I started 4 years ago.
To put it simply, I started experiencing panick attacks outside of therapy (after 3 1/2 years of therapy) and that really dreaded me. They were awful and I was sure I was going crazy. Usually they were linked with hate images, or impulses. Once, a few weeks after the first attack, I also experienced a panick attack while lying on the couch. It was horrible. I don’t know what I felt, as this time I didn’t actually notice the hate in me. My therapist just asked me “what do you feel ?” as he saw I was in a really bad state. I just said “I don’t know, I’m not feeling well”. It passed, but just after this session, I got back home and had a terrible panick attack, without knowing why.
My therapist then left, one week later. I lived hell for one month, only thinking about his return, not sleeping, having horrible nightmares, and imaginations of hate that would terrify me. As I was studying for my exams and was unemployed, I had a lot of time and I would wake up shaking, dreadfully waiting, counting the days before he would come back. At that time, I also spoke a lot to my parents about these feeling (which is something we never do), and they were supportive. Or at least present for me.
This was this summer.
Since then, I live with anxiety all days, I sometimes have paranoid thoughts, but I used to be able to manage them and remember they are just images, but since I take an SSRI (4 days ago), I’m not sure about what to think of these fears.
Anyway, the thing is that I think a have GREAT anger against my therapist, I often think that he is responsible for my today’s state, that he’s responsible for having me live an experience that is actually way worse that what it was starting with him, that he just didn’t manage the transferrence, but I have been completely unable to tell him. In facts this is untrue – I told him about this hate for him, but every time I do, I feel like a stupid child who is just trying to obtain something. I can’t LIVE this anger, I can’t let it out. When I do it, it’s because I have prepared myself for telling him, but at the moment I enter his office, I don’t feel anymore hate, and it just all feels like acting to tell him I hate him. And now when I fantasize it, it is so strong that I imagine I will shout out with mad anger, and it scares me that he would… I don’t know what, but that he wouldn’t bear it. Maybe I fear hurting him. I also fear that destroying our relation would only lead to worse for me.
My therapist usually reacts very little when I’m angry. He is always very detached and professionnal.
I have a very strong attachement to what he says, and I find myself often agreeing totally with what he says and I fear I am just unable to protect myself, I fear that the transferrence is so heavy that I can’t be myself with him, that I’m just accepting everything he says, that I actually forget myself when I’m with him and that this will destroy me.
I already feel destroyed.
My parents were unemotional and as far as I remember they didn’t love each other, and I am the last of three child who has seen a total chaos in his family : the parents hating each other, and my two elder sisters fighting with them all the time. I have been playing a lot of video games and have always seen myself as the “little angel” that is always smiley, gentle and sweet. I just can’t cope with all of this and it is driving me totally crazy and I’m obsessed with that thought of just losing my mind.
He seem’s to have total confidence in the fact that I’m not crazy, and when I talk about stoping therapy he says that I may “stay with all of this” if I do… Sometimes I regard this as a threat.
Last time I talked about it he just said “Ok, do we see each other on friday ?”, although to me I wasn’t talking about stoping right now… I felt this as rude too.
Now I fear so much for our next encounter, which is tomorrow, I keep asking myself what I should do to feel better, what I’m supposed to do, or to say… my self-confidence is reduced to basically nothing.
What should I do ?
You most definitely need to go into all this anger with your therapist. It should become the primary focus of your therapy because it is mostly likely the source of your panic attacks and “paranoia.”
Is it normal to feel bad about a therapy session? Like I may have upset my psychologist because I avoid the deep feelings and change topic? Or because I wanted to believe that the feelings I had as a teen when I was suicidal have passed? She told me she wasn’t convinced and that she needs to keep me on track. I noticed she had a lump forming in her throat. I told her I hated my childhood but I only realize now aFter that session it’s because of vivud images I have of myself as a child? If I go in next session and not look at her in the eye and talk about those images do you think therapy will get better? I don’t want to give up or her to give up on me
The best chance for therapy to improve is to be completely candid with your therapist and hold nothing back.
Sorry for the giga-comment I posted yesterday. If you want to answer it’s still with great pleasure, but I think the situation will eventually get solved. I have had a very honest chat with him today and feel much better. I just hope it lasts…
Anyways, even if you didn’t answer or read my last post, I want to thank you for all the answers you’ve given so far, for your advice seems to be enlightening, as your posts on your blog are.
I was so lost and analysts are so invisible on the internet that your website was a real relief.
I really struggle with my therapist of liking or hating her.
I feel such pride in who she is sometimes and other times I feel I am just her job. Yes, I am her job but I worry that I am being fooled about her caring part. My insurance pays her and when that was renewed she seemed happier than usual. Lucky her.
She used to be there more for me and that has changed. I wonder why and it hurts.
I was going to skip a session to see if she cares.
My question has to do with anger at a former therapist, because of unanswered questions about how the therapy was terminated.
To make a long story short, I had a therapist which had been very helpful to me. First time I met her was after I had a terrible anxiety attack at a very difficult time in my life. I saw her for a few sessions and it helped. She used a mix of CBT and compassion based therapy (I dont know the actual term in english) anyway when my anxiety started shooting up again it made sense to contact her. Again it was helpful and I had become quite fond of her.
The actual therapy ended but things were left open so I contacted her again in time of crisis ( first I lost my job), then found myself having real difficulties adapting to my new job. Anyway, after I lost my job I met with her twice, which was enough and then contacted her again when I found my self unable to sleep and terrified of how things were going in my new job.
She basically told me she didnÂ´t see things getting better at my new job, plus other things that hurt me quite deeply. I left her office more hurt than angry but assuming this would pass (I have felt annoyed at her before, it passes). This one didnÂ´t the feeling I was left with is she thinks I am incapable and doesnÂ´t believe I will find a way to cope with this situation. I am in fact a highly capable person, well educated and have managed my life pretty well. My problems have got to do with anxiety and sometimes too much sensitivity).
Since I trusted her, I decided to talk to her about this. I wanted to know where she was coming from, what she meant when she told me those things. I was polite, but more timid than I usually am. She got furious, scolded me for not saying anything sooner, than fired me.
This haunts me and I donÂ´t know how to deal with it. Do I ask her to explain what happened or just let it go ?
No, don’t ask again. Any therapist who becomes furious with a client like you and then terminates the treatment is unprofessional.
Hello. I really like what you wrote. You see, actually my therapyst is very good and I have not experienced a bad situation with her. She has not manipulated me or lied to me or anything close to what IÂ´ve been reading in the comments. The thing is IÂ´m kind of angry at her because I have not achive my goals yet and I feel like I never will. This makes me both sad and frustrated. Is it normal to feel this?
Sounds like a topic to take up with your therapist.
My therapist said she never heard of someone who is bipolar going into a manic episode after taking antidepressants without a mood stabilizer.This concerns me because it’s a common well known fact.Also she said that Dyslexia is something people out grow when I know that dyslexia is people see in pictures something you never out grow but can learn skills to cope with life.My son was a welder and was having sinus infections continuously so he found a job making less money working on computers .She thinks at age 21 he should be moved out and is using us by not welding.He shows signs of boarder line personality hurting him self a compulsive lair easily irritated believes I am the greatest thing ever or I am out to get him and I am horrible . I’ve only been seeing her a few months but I wonder if she doesn’t know basic facts that I am dealing with in my life with my 2 sons if I should find someone else who can better help me or is this a phase where I hate her like a parent for not having common knowledge I think she should have also I do hate someone telling me I am wrong about FACTS I do know about and have researched to better understand to help my son’s.I had 2 close head injuries and struggled in school I realize there are huge areas in life I struggle feel disrespected and belittled when I am told I don’t know what I am talking about when I really do it makes me doubt my reality and feel insecure.
i agree and i believe this is what has happened in my sessions
my hang up, and it is my hang up, is that i hate being criticized when i know my therapist does the same thing he is pointing out to me and does not seem to be actively and honestly working to resolve that part of himself. i get defensive and i get angry and i expect him to own up to his stuff rather than being focused enough to stay with myself
it is a real hang up for me…”practice what you preach” is important to me.
I do strongly dislike my Therapist (who is no more my therapist). That is a whole other topic…he took advantage of my attachment to him and my low self-esteem in the most unforgivable way.
For the first time ever, I started feeling irritation for my therapist – unfounded irritation of course. We talked about it and amazingly, I realize even more now that he is a really good therapist. He was very calm and unfazed by the things I told him and about all the irrational anger. When I first read this article about 4 months ago, I thought to myself, “I like S too much. I won’t ever be mad at him…” – and lo, it has happened these past two weeks. I think I’m finally at the point where I’m acknowledging my defensiveness and resistance… Thank you for this article. It was very very interesting and helpful!
This sounds really good. Having a therapist who doesn’t get defensive and can just receive and understand your anger/irritation is key.
I have been in counseling for about 7 years and through that time many boundaries with me have been broken and now I feel like I’ve been used and discarded.
This counselor was my pastor, who also has a master’s in counseling, so this was a dual relationship. I have a lot of childhood emotional abuse I have been working through both from my mother and childhood bullying. I was receiving a lot of help and ministry from his family but it all seemed to slowly change when I inherited a large sum of money and after a lot of thought, gave he an his wife a $10,000 gift. That was because, during our earlier counseling sessions he told me on numerous times that he didn’t have a lot of money, and I felt so grateful for all the help he was giving me, and for his wife’s kindness in reaching out to me in friendship that I wanted to bless them.
Our relationship slowly seemed to change after that, and has practically faded away now. The fading has happened with them. I haven’t change but they seemed to not want to be with my husband and I any more.
This has and is causing me great anxiety and depression because it’s in relationships that I struggle with. I’m feeling that I will never get better now and I’m left with no hope.
I’m sorry to hear it has turned out that way. I wonder what it was about the gift that made him distance himself from you.
Joe – is it normal to feel anger & hate towards your therapist so that you want to leave? I am in an intolerable situation whereby my mother sent my therapist a letter behind my back – & I am 50+! She was giving contributions towards the th. (so had a copy of a bill with contact details) but after an argument with her she cut me off which co-incided with the letter she sent my Th. I was devastated, especially since he said he couldn’t show me the letter because it was her letter. What made it worse was he responded to her behind my back saying he would do his best to help me, now she has a letter to humiliate me to friends & family….ammunition to stigmatise me. When I told him this he just said “you are the one in therapy” as if he supports anything she does, even if it is destructive …. He says it was the letter of a concerned mother (not likely as she’s abusive, & anyway she cut me off so presumably no more contributions – how is that “concern”?) saying she was worried about me… and he replied he would do his best to help me. I was livid – all behind my back., humiliating and infantilising. I told him he was disrespectful towards me by doing that & I couldn’t trust him as a result. Now I’m thinking if I can’t see this,letter I will possibility have to leave after 3 years because it will be hanging over the therapy like a dark cloud forever… I feel mostly betrayed, and that trust has been broken. The regulating body told me it was his letter not hers, and couldn’t see why he can’t show it to me. This seems to have made no difference to him, he just says we have to talk about it. Now I’m left in a dire situation whereby I will have to reduce sessions due to funds (though he thinks I must go more than once a week) presumably but this has not been spoken about so I am left hanging, he is in control, I feel completely lost and bewildered. I’m so fed up and don’t know what is wrong or right in this situation, is this the healthy hate & anger you speak of when something is productive or justified because of the situation? I can’t tell.
Is it normal for a psychologist who practices psychodynamic psychotherapy to never have been in therapy himself? I asked him how he could see his own blind spots if he had never been in therapy, and he told me he did not have any. I asked if I could come twice a week instead of once so there would be a greater likelihood of transference developing, and he said he did not work with transference unless it became a problem. Isn’t that what psychodynamic therapy is about? The examination of transference? He spent much of each session talking about himself and his other clients and then he abruptly quit on me in the last 10 minutes of a session, saying he wasn’t helping me and did not want to keep taking my money. This was over a year ago and I keep thinking I must have done something wrong. I am still plagued by this. Help?
You did nothing wrong. He was inexperienced and not very good at his work. Any therapist who says he has never had any therapy because he has no blind spots is deluding himself.
Dr. Joe, thank you so much for responding! You confirmed what I thought and hopefully now I can put this experience behind me! I am grateful to you.
My former therapist (a PhD psych student) saw me for 2.5 years, then wrote an article that set out my situation w\ a pseudonym, but said I was , as a result of his masterfull work, able to go on myself after he terminated. In reality, he transferred me to another student, who I have been making great progress with. He never asked my permission for the article, never even told me abt it, I stumbled on if by chance. Its hard fore to trust anyone, but I have made great strides, EDP with current therapist, but since telling current therapist abt the article, I am outraged at the article, and know I could work on it with current therapist, but feel used and robbed of the 1,000 of $ I shelled out, only to be used to prove his wacky point. He made it sound in the article as if I stayed in therapy because of his work, that it was all him. Is it wrong to ask the training clinic to help me out with the twice weekly therapy cost, given the damage one of their former clinicians has done. I don’t even know if I can trust anybody anymore. If a therapist, esp one being supervised by a PhD faculty member with tons of experience, isn’t safe, what can I do?
I don’t think the clinic is going to help you out with the cost of therapy. What your former therapist did may not have been terribly sensitive but it isn’t grounds for any kind of legal action.
My therapist was quie an assertive man. Aggressive too at times. He seemed like it was possible he could say or do almost anything. .
Very little filter on what he said. Wondered why he was such a weirdo. He said and did something that hurt me terribly. I should not have put it passed him. But I thought he wasn’t a total a$$$hole. (Dollars sign on purpose).
though I know he was 100% capable of it. I thought he had more boundaries. Man, I was sooo very wrong.
He was defensive in the end, in some ways that just sickened me so much.
In the end he showed he can say and do whatever he wants. I think where I live there are many who get away with
crapping on people all the time. What gives man.
I had an experience in the workplace, where i was doing in-house Supervisor Training which was run by a Psychologist. During the course of the entire day I was intimidated and belittled, because months prior to this training I complained via email about past discrimination and harassment from my workplace within the 10 years of service. I explained in these emails word for word what was said and done to me. One of my complaints was regarding a Supervisor in which we both had a personality conflict because I was openly gay. There were comments made by the trainer who made negative comments about “people who email every word in the head” and also made comments about “people who hear voices”. I was also mocked by other members in this training because I had (as its was said to me) “little man syndrome”. About 8 months after the training it all hit me as to what they were doing that day. I complained to Upper Management and not one person came and spoke to me about it. I was ignored. After i made official complaints about this training I was serverely work placed bullied to the point of the brink of insanity. I have now been diagnosed with Paranoia Schizophrenia and suffer from PTSD. My workplace forced me to seek counselling from work related Psychologists in which one of them was told to report back to my workplace. They gave me no option in going to see a Clinical Psychologist. Because i had complained about past discrimination and harassment because I was openly gay, they tried to make out that what i complained about was all in my head and this training reinforced my thinking, that work related Psychologists were conspiring against me because of my complaints.
I now have an utter hatred for Psychologists in general. I am also a big fan of Olivia Newton-John and told my work related Psychologist that I get inspiration from Olivia’s music. My Psychologist stated back to me “you keep pretending that you are ONJ” I have never thought that at all. Why would a Professional Psychologist put me down, because I get inspiration from Olivia’s music. In my opinion, it felt like she was trying to destroy my coping strategy for when I am confronted with trauma like bullying. I stopped listening to Olivia’s music because i didn’t want people to think what my Psychologist had said to me. And then the workplace bullying took a hold of me and I couldn’t cope and lost the plot completely to the point of attempted suicide. It is now 6.5 years since this happened and I am finding Olivia music again and am coping better. I also received counselling from Psychologists away from my ex workplace and I am doing better.
I still hold a lot of resentment for the way i was Psychologically bullied by people who should be helping me. I will never for as long as I live use a work related Psychologist again.
Interesting perspective. I got triggered by what you said about BPD patients, as I was falsely diagnosed as one.
I had a bad experience with a therapist where I made no progress over a 2 year period of time, and became increasingly depressed and confused. He also exploited me financially, when I complained about not making progress, he had nothing to offer me except more appointments. Clearly he was interested in my money, not my progress. I quit and moved on to someone else and those experiences were enormously helpful and told me my therapist was in fact, negligent, incompetent and exploitative.
A long time later, I took him to court, where he showed up with a diagnosis in retaliation. He’d never given me a diagnosis as a patient. It took me a year and involvement from the licensing board to get the actual diagnosis, which was false.
Another year later, he published a book chronicling a difficult time he was having where he admits to his own depression, hopelessness, health problems, financial problems that occurred while I was a patient. Turns out, he also had a dozen or so patients commit suicide under his care.
I filed another claim with the board of licensing that is pending. I’m hoping they take his negligence seriously. He was a danger to patients and has a history of exploiting them for personal gain.
Hi Joseph, I have been in therapy for almost two years and had to leave because I really had the feeling that my therapist was ‘killing me emotionally’ as if he was just ‘crushing me between thumb and index finger’. He just scared me, which we talked about numberous times though I never told him about the feeling of being suppressed/ held down/ killing. It took me a lot of time to leave, then talked about that experience w another therapist. I don’t blame him because I know it comes from childhood but wish he would have grasped the gravity of the situation better. Thus yes I am angry with him. But isn’t it my fault for not having left sooner?
my therapist confused me so much. i think i fulfilled some of his needs of feeling wanted and sought after unknowingly. i think we were both in a rot in our marriages andin desperate need of someone paying attention to us and filling that need. we found a common interest outside of therapy and emailed/texted about it. this led to more emailing and texting about other interest that we may have touched on during sessions. i normally initiated the subjects but he would respond most of the time. at times he’d say i’d had to stop emailing him and he wouldn’t respond to emails but then when i would go in with my husband he would tell me he reads all my emails even if he doesn’t respond. i noticed he would say more daring things when i would go in with my husband but he would e a bit more guarded when we did individual sessions. i’m convinced he as drawn to me. i remember one day i called him early in the morning and when he picked up he sounded like he just woke up and i apologized for calling him so early and he said @ are you kidding me? i look forward to hearing from you every day” this puzzled me and i pretended i didn’t hear it but it has stayed with me and led me to believe this slipped out because he was half asleep and must’ve he had kind of a crush on me and has stayed with me ever since.
in the meantime, we terminated therapy which was so painful to me and i was extremely angry at him because i felt abandoned by him.
so my question is: was that comment too revealing/inappropriate? was he experiencing as much romantic countertransference as i was expiriencing transference? i think we terminated therapy bc we were both fearing escalation of emotions.
Good article about letting patients know things they are not aware of that might help with their lives. It’s been said that the truth will set you free, and this is often the case. However, timing is important.
If the patient is confronted too soon in the therapy or in a way that feels harsh, the patient may be wounded and leave therapy. This is a huge loss for a patient that has invested time, money and trust to improve their lives.
The patient’s sensitivity must be considered in order to dispense the proper dose of insight at the right time and in the right manner. It is an art that many therapists practice, and some unfortunately do not.
Some therapists are oblivious to their own character deficiencies (or don’t care) and have not done enough inner work to be safe in the room with patients. There are “bad eggs” that can be sadistic in the guise of “truth-telling.” I have had the experience of sitting in the room with a therapist who seemed to have a compulsion to dispense his version of “the truth” without concern for the effects. Curiously, after repeated ethical violations of much greater consequence, this person no longer has a license.
“Do no harm” is a good mantra for anyone professing to be a therapist. If there is a compulsion to have a Perry Mason moment of inappropriately dispensed truth, perhaps the therapist should spend more time with a mirror.
I spend a lot of time being introspective outside of therapy. I see a therapist as a sort of hired detective for things I don’t understand or can’t grasp, so I don’t get angry when they say something that rings true that I didn’t notice before – even if I don’t like the idea. For me it is a sort of “ah-ha!” moment. I might cry or have other strong feelings, but I’m not mad at the therapist because they were just doing the job I paid them for.
I do get angry however if they have me pegged wrong and start pushing their incorrect beliefs about me. I would be livid if they told me I was lying either to them or myself. Whether or not they are smug about it doesn’t matter, it feels very condescending and manipulative. I have no reason to lie in therapy, it defeats the purpose.
I found your site looking for why am I always angry at my therapist?
I agree what you are saying. I actually find the whole resistance thing is the door to recovery. If there is no resistance from the client, then to me this means, the therapist walked into the person and is driving the person from inside out.
A resistance is the person has defences (rightfully to protect) and the client is feeling the resistance or the heat because the therapist is knocking on the door and cannt get in. It is up to the client to ask why am I not allowing the therapist and then boom if lucky, the client will get aligned, an insight, or cured seriously. The trick is the client must really name the thing behind the resistance right 100% right or basically the therapist cannot go in and drive client from inside out and the client is stuck behind a resistance cause he or she does not know what she or he is protecting.
I have had this experience. I was resistant. So resistant that I got anxiety, unbearable anxiety just to keep functioning. I was fighting with my therapist in my head 24/7. I hated her (I still do..she is so much like my mother – the source of my problem).
But then something strange happened. I simply asked why am I angry at her? Why do not I just leave? Then I thought if I leave I still have this feeling of not dealing with something and I did not want to really tell her about this cause again (the resistant) because I did not want her to know or use this against meâ€¦
Long story short, I realized my resistance was I felt threatened. I was abused as a child violently by my mother so my great wall of defense is I am threatenedâ€¦but my response to that is also I am protected. So the lie I told (or partially the lie) I told myself over the years was I am protected â€¦I never ever said I am threatened cause I rationalized without knowing that I am no longer under my mom so that is not the case.
The truth is that was the case. That was the resistance. I felt like 7yrs old, I was threatened by the therapist! So I resisted her rightfully. But I also rightfully keep digging my own resistance and found my own answer to it and boomâ€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦I laughed and cried so much to realize the flip thing. I am protected yes but more importantly I am feeling protected BECAUSE I AM FEELING THREATENED. The feeling of threat came first before the protection!
I got one defense down more to go of course.
Now why am I here?
I told my therapist I cracked the code of my defense and had zero anxiety since. She was like wellâ€¦whatever or very dismissive! Now I am angry at her. I mean seriously give me a break hereâ€¦
Now I am seriously considering of leaving because I felt my own cracking will be noted and the fact I have no anxietyâ€¦zero gut knotting should be noted and then we can move to the next resistance.
Well I am here because I think I am in the middle of the resistance 2.0?
I cannot figure this out. I feel it may be anger but it is not resonating. It could be abandonment but I do not feel it in gut level. I have to get the feeling right in order to dissolve the resistance.
I am not going to quit her yet cause my anger and obsession of thinking about her is my solution to my problem.
I feel downsizing the therapist like quitting the group thing but stay for the one on one. I feel she will resist and tell me I am avoiding blahah but I am OK with that. I want to tell her I lived before her and I can manage and prosper after herâ€¦I do not know the name of this feelingâ€¦that I am describing.
This is the conundrumâ€¦I can feel the resistance, I am doubting it is anger or abandonment but it could be other fearâ€¦those do not ring a bell or I could be in denial. I am stuck.
I want to solve this on my own. This is a long term therapy and she likes pushing people into transference and I am not into that anymoreâ€¦I like here and now and having my adult person stay with my inner child and solve it together. My therapist dismisses my adult person accomplishment (at least I get that feeling) but again my resistance to her for not allowing to get in and drive me from inside out is very conscious for me and helps me.
Why am I so obsessed and angry at her? And what am I resisting?
thanks for your post.
i’m a grad student in counseling, and an intern who had my first experience of a client being so angry with me that she called to terminate services a couple days later. we had a very positive and strengths-based session and towards the end i did some empathic confrontation on her incongruous thinking. i felt like we were finally making progress–that she was able to get angry felt like a good thing, and i did my best to be non-reactive because i thought it would be therapeutically beneficial for her to be accepted unconditionally. she was not able or willing to express the why of her anger but used body language and sarcasm to communicate that she was mad. when i encouraged her to share her here and now experience, or her thoughts about me, or even yell at me, she stormed out. i was looking forward to continuing the relationship, enduring the discomfort to grow the attachment. but now i wonder if i did something wrong, though my challenges were pretty gentle, just pointing out and inconsistency that was to encourage her to express needs and set boundaries. but then maybe i pushed too much for her to express her anger? anyway, what do we do when a client is so mad that they never return to therapy? 🙁
Great post. So I think you also said in one of your replies that a therapist that encourages frustration to get out answers from the client, is incompetent? In my case, I feel sometimes as though he doubts or is skeptical of everything I say, and I see it in his facial expression (especially his eyes). He also likes to approach things from the extreme, i.e. there’s only a black and white answer to everything with nothing in between the continuum. (I confronted this and he conceded he understands there’s not always two extremes but it’s just his approach). He says he is very direct and does not let people get away with bullshit. He made the comparison to himself as like a ‘bulldog’, to bully and wait until the answer comes out. Yes, this person swears from time to time too – is this normal? He does not take notes, and instead video records and asserts he watches them after the consultation. I have noticed in the beginning I was just being very compliant, and I think that was detrimental too – I did this because he always appeared quite intimidating, skeptical and filled with cynicism. I think all these factors prevented me from being open and comfortable with him and sharing things. I think in our last session I witnessed myself his angst when I confronted him about some of these issues. This is when he was a bit more vulgar (i.e. ‘bullshit’, in the context of along the lines of “I don’t bullshit around and am very direct”) in his description of things, and clasped his hands together – is this a sign that he was uncomfortable or doesn’t like me or know how to deal with my challenges but won’t admit it?
So yeah, sometimes he exaggerates so much I don’t completely agree with him, which sometimes he keeps repeating so I just agreed with it any way. i.e. ‘a defeated man that’s stuck in a hole’. I’m in no way depressed and felt that way – that just felt like an extreme to me, and I wanted to offer more comment on it or elaborate, but he stops me there. He claims I will just confuse myself if I keep adding caveats or extra comments to his observations. How true is this? I have only seen him several times. I have found it is helpful because he directly challenges my behaviours and how it is not helping me – but sometimes it seems as though it’s an attack on me as if I’m stupid and not able to help myself, yet I’ve tried many things. He likes to ask ‘and how is that working out for you?’, on all the things that I say I’ve been doing to try and self-improve myself and resolve some of my issues. So I agree, the awareness helps, but so far there’s been little to no ‘positive’ness.
I feel it may be helpful (even though it makes me angry/frustrated sometimes) because it is very different to what I’ve experienced with a lot of therapists, who were more ‘positively-oriented’ that told me how I’m high functioning, have done really well to get to where I am, and not to worry, etc. On the first session, I felt as though it was an interrogation, that dug deep into my emotions.
But I am not sure on the whole thing – do you think this is good and I should continue? Or is this person causing more detriment than good, especially long-term? Many thanks.
For instance, I talked about how I read books, etc, and his response to that, I immediately felt as though he judged me for trying to work on myself? Seemed like he convinced me that what I was doing was wrong / incorrect and I was stupid for doing it? i.e. ‘and how’s that working out for you’? These are rhetorical questions – why else would I be going to therapy? But that’s not to say the books have been completely useless, surely? But he sure does make it seem that way. Is it some sort of exaggeration, in order to coerce me to change my behavior/patterns?
I also have ADHD – and for example, he briefly chuckled at me or thought it was ‘insane’ when I talked about how I find it difficult to manage my time or how I am always late to everything. I wasn’t sure as if he is ignorant of the actual difficulty of my challenges, or, again, coercing/forcing some change in my behaviour so that I have to FORCE myself to have 10 clocks in my face or something and use calendars, etc. These are all easy said than done – but not for someone with my challenges. Is it just this psychologist’s temperament and approach? Would you say any of this is detrimental to me?
Again.I am sorry to find these amazing gems so late in the game.
I am in therapy first time in my 40s dealing with severe childhood trauma. I basically dissociated from the get go at infancy I think cause if or when I go into complete transference psychosis, language is gone!
The thing is I have somatic issues, some fairly manageable anxiety and no other conditions. I managed well (weirdly and miraculously) to get a great marriage, work I love, and have decent relationships with people. My mother is cut off for good reason of violating me for the first 18yrs of my life. Have not spoken to her for over 5yrs.
I LOVE therapy. I find it comfortable. It works. Those little mini psychosis I had, I gained the most value. Instant earning of safety, security, separation of my mother and I etc. I can easily observe myself while under weird split of the mind!
but this is my issue. My therapist always bring everything to himself as in relation wise…how do I feel him going away? I am OK with that. I go away myself sometimes. I learn faster when I recognize a patter with my husband and I share it with my therapist…and again the therapist will bring it to himself…how did I feel what he said or did….
I like my therapist. I LOVE therapy itself. I think about it. I do not believe insight cognitively, it has to seep into my body because that is where my pain is by dissociating so I can easily feel release of parasympathetic system but I cannot express in words yet…I am learning this in therapy.
My question is why is my therapist focused on me focusing on him and I? I can infer he thinks I must have attachment issues but I am old right…I do not have attachment issues. I have structural self issues. i need a professional to observe me while I uncover and go slowly to face the horror of my childhood that I completely disavowed by automatic disassociation or in denial as an adult to keep my mother in my life.
The therapist is always talking about new relationship and how I feel about him??? I am not angry yet but I feel if I did not like him, I wouldn’t be coming back and paying every week.
i reassure him the therapy is working for me cause I think about it a lot and I can pinpoint my patterns and body relief and try very hard to learn how to articulate feelings as I remember from interaction with my husband or from the past.
I learn more when I am in conversation or dilemma with my husband or at work…it is instant for me to observe wow! what was that? than in the therapy room….I am not in conflict with the therapist. I may disagree with him or feel he is ahead of me but I do not experience anger toward him cause I am fully committed to see through my trauma finally…I avoided therapy for 30yrs exactly for a good reason.
Am I missing something? Is it normal not to feel anger toward the therapist?ambivalence yes. unsure of what he says sometimes sure..but anger? I do not feel anger toward my doctor even though I may feel yeah right?
Just wondering if this anger toward therapist is standard feeling or some people just do not have resistance that strong?
“If there is no resistance from the client, then to me this means, the therapist walked into the person and is driving the person from inside out.”
Wow! Your comment touched a cord.
I am very new to therapy. Never been to one but when I experienced a job loss, I decided to give a try! the best decision I ever made.
Now I have no resistance. I have poor ego development because I was in violent household until I was 18. I have no resistance. During the first few months of therapy, I broke down into different psychic states where I could also easily observe. It is terrifying experience.
To give some flavour…it felt to me…i was split into my true self (which was folded and scared) and seemed more on my left side. and my mother’s voice demanding and angry like and what seemed like my weak ego trying to reason. creepy but it is psychosis level!
My first therapist was really bad even though very experienced. She engaged the mother side of my brain (this is how I learned I also identified with my mother)…therapist engaged the worst side of my psychic and freaked me out in a very explicit way. Before a lot of my feeling were implicit.
Long story short, I thought she was trying to drive me to madness….you are right if there is no resistance the therapist can put stuff in your head easily. I was lucky to bounce back and actually asked her how what she was doing (arguing with my crazy side under psychosis) was helping me? I was re-traumatized from her.
I left her fractured and deeply hurt. I found another therapist and boom no resistance and he helped me earn trust and safety in a way I cannot explain or describe. Rather than resisting, I flowed and for him rather than correcting and arguing he kept telling me I was safe. I was here. and keep asking me questions I could answer even though my language was impaired.
If you trust your therapist…practice resistance before you fall sleep….your subconsciousness needs to relax.
IMHO, lack of resistance is the best form of therapy if the therapist is good. If bad, they can gaslight you and destroy you so you stay with them for life.
Typing at work so hope this makes sense.
My therapist pushed me to drop out of college all those years ago and this had made my life much more economically precarious since. Economic pain is profound pain, and this represents a great deal of suffering over a lifetime. I profoundly regret it.
I don’t entirely deny my agency in that choice to of course. However I was SO VERY young then, plus there is always a power imbalance between a therapist and a client, made worse it the client is so young and lacks world experience and the therapist seems to have it and one even turns to the therapist for it. I trusted this therapist as the wise adult with guidance which I didn’t have back then. I would never have dropped out without their influence.
I know I could have at times gone back to school, but the path of least resistance would have just been to get my degree when I was enrolled in college full time (why did that therapist push me off it?). There are times my life seems ruined because of this though most of the time I have been able to support myself. And yes I might go back to college someday, but right now is really not a good time, and it is not the same thing as going when one is young, but I don’t rule out the possibility permanently. I know a college education isn’t the only thing that matters economically and that many people are quite successful despite it, it’s that combined with bad luck etc. that has hurt.
My therapist suggested I read several chapters of a book on my 2nd session. He said he gives it to all his trauma clients to read so they know how he works. I was horribly triggered by it. When I got back to therapy, I hesitantly told him. It’s embarrassing when a book to help triggers. Feel weak. Anyway he said all his other clients who have read it like it and found it useful and some even highlight it and bring it in to talk about. He didnt seem interested in understanding what about it was triggering for me. At first I felt huge shame. Now I’m pissed. He seems angry at me if I even mention the book. I’m confused on this whole thing, especially why he would be angry.
I was in therapy for 7 years, starting at age 29. I was severely depressed, having panic attacks, could not sit still, could not concentrate, barely slept. In therapy I was getting worse, I was an in-patient for 67 days, then outpatient again. My therapist would not put me on an antidepressant. I shared very little since I could barely concentrate, my thoughts just swirled. My therapist insisted on delving into my childhood “traumas” and was into symbolic meanings and the whole resistance and transference thing. It was not helpful and, as sincere and patient as she was, I grew to resent interpretations. I censored what little I did say. I told her I thought it was bull and not helpful. I developed thoughts of suicide and my therapist knew this. My primary care physician watched my decline, could watch no more, and prescribed Elavil. In a month I was I new person – everyone noticed including my therapist. In time I got a job (a career which I am still doing 30 years later). There was no need to discuss “feelings” endlessly. I was “happy” enough. When my therapist moved away about 6 years later she said that she never really got to know me. I am sure there are plenty of people who love to talk about their childhood hurts every week; for those who don’t, I think therapy needs to be more “active” on the part of the therapist, focusing on the immediate issues or there will be nothing but frustration and a great potential for harm.
I believe youâ€™ve drawn too broad a picture. Itâ€™s one thing to work supportively with a client to help them see what they couldnâ€™t see on their own. Itâ€™s another to pummel a client in a â€œplaying Godâ€ fashion. Iâ€™ve had both kinds of therapists, and I found the former approach worked toward growth, and the latter did not. Your client still has a point of view and an inner life to which they are entitled and to which no other being has direct access. Particularly if your client has experienced their reality being negated (if they were dependent on a narcissist, if they are female and living in a patriarchy, if they are a minority, etc.), you might do better to let them begin to build confidence in their own views and knowledge and experiences rather than assume you always know more than they do.